Gemstone Birthstone Jewelry at Northwest Jewelry
Here is an interesting overview of gemstone birthstones with a few examples of our birthstone jewelry, compiled here for your information!
January Birthstone - Garnet
Garnet is January’s birthstone. Although garnets are often thought to be only red in color, in reality garnets come in many colors.
The almandite garnet is the traditional red to reddish-brown garnet. This is the garnet you most often see in jewelry stores.
Above is an example of an almandite garnet, also known as almandine garnet. Other names are Colorado ruby, Cape ruby, or carbuncle.
Almandite garnets are Type II gemstones. When grading a garnet, we expect to find minor eye-visible inclusions. These are minor enough that they should not detract from the general appearance of the stone. If they do, the stone would be considered to be of a lesser grade.
Almandite garnets are a 7 to 7-1/2 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
To clean an almandite garnet, using warm soapy water is always safe. Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe. Do not clean in a steamer.
Grossularite garnets are light to dark green, light to dark yellow to reddish orange, colorless, or opaque pink.
The most well-known grossularite garnet is the tsavorite garnet , which is an intense green to yellowish green. Other types of grossularite garnets are hessonite, which is yellow-orange to reddish orange, and xalostocite (also known as landerite or rosolite), which is translucent to opaque pink crystals in marble and is considered ornamental.
Below is an example of a matched pair of oval tsavorite garnets:
Tsavorite garnets are also a Type II gemstone, which means we would expect only minor eye-visible inclusions in a high grade stone.
Tsavorite garnets are 7 to 7-1/2 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Use warm, soapy water to clean your tsavorite jewelry. Although cleaning in an ultrasonic machine is usually safe, it can be risky if the stone has liquid inclusions. Never clean in a steamer.
February Birthstone - Amethyst
Amethyst is February’s birthstone. They are a member of the quartz family and are generally purple to bluish purple.
Amethysts are plentiful and are very well known. Most retail jewelry stores have a wide collection of amethyst jewelry. It is generally very reasonably priced and holds up well in rings, bracelets, necklaces, or earrings.
Below is a picture of a beautiful piece of amethyst jewelry:
And here are amethyst earrings with a vibrant purple color:
Trade names include Uralian or Siberian amethyst, which are deep reddish purple and ametrine, which is a bi-colored combination of citrine quartz and amethyst quartz.
Amethysts are a Type II gemstone. When grading an amethyst, we expect to find minor eye-visible inclusions. These are minor enough that they should not detract from the general appearance of the stone. If they do, the stone would be considered to be of a lesser grade.
Amethysts are 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
The safest way to clean amethyst jewelry is to use warm, soapy water. Using an ultrasonic machine is usually safe, but steamers are risky.
March Birthstone - Aquamarine
Aquamarine is March’s birthstone. It is a member of the beryl family, as are emeralds.
Aquamarines are greenish-blue to blue-green and generally light in tone.
Above is an example of an aquamarine ring. Other trade names are Madagascar aquamarine and Brazilian aquamarine.
Aquamarines are Type I gemstones, meaning when grading an aquamarine, we would expect it to be eye-clean—without magnification, it’s difficult to see any flaws in the stone. An aquamarine with eye-visible inclusions would be considered a lower grade.
Aquamarines are 7-1/2 to 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They hold up well in all types of jewelry.
The safest way to clean an aquamarine is using warm, soapy water. Ultrasonics and steamers are usually safe, but are risky if there are inclusions or feathers in the stone.
April Birthstone - Diamond
The diamond is April’s birthstone. Although diamonds are most commonly colorless to near colorless, there is a growing market for fancy colored green, blue, and red diamonds. Also growing in popularity are black, champagne and cognac diamonds.
Above is an example of a fancy diamond bracelet with near colorless diamonds.
Here is a wedding ring set with a fancy yellow diamond center stone:
And a gent’s ring with a fancy blue diamond center stone:
Trade names for diamonds include canary, champagne, jonquil, and coffee, referring to different shades of fancy-colored diamonds. Cape is a dated term referring to yellowish diamonds, river is another dated term referring to colorless diamonds, jager refers to colorless diamonds with strong fluorescence, and premier refers to yellowish diamonds with strong fluorescence.
Colored gemstones’ clarity are graded using types, i.e. Type I, Type II and Type II . Diamonds are graded differently, using a scale from flawless (Fl) to imperfect (I1, I2, and I3). Diamonds are one of the most valuable stones, and their value is determined by clarity grades and color grades. The color grades range from E (colorless) to Z (yellow).
The diamond is the hardest gemstone on the Mohs Hardness Scale, being a 10. Only another diamond can scratch a diamond. Diamonds hold up extremely well in all types of jewelry.
To clean a diamond, use warm, soapy water for the least risk. Ultrasonic machines and steams are usually safe, unless the stone contains feathers.
May Birthstone - Emerald
Emerald is May’s birthstone. They are a member of the beryl family, as is aquamarine. Their color ranges from light to dark green to bluish green.
Above is a beautiful emerald ring. This stone is typical of an emerald, showing eye-visible inclusions.
Trade names include Colombian, referring to fine-quality emeralds as well as to their origin, Brazilian, Sandawana, and Zambian. Colombian emeralds generally have the highest value.
Emeralds are a Type III gemstone, meaning we expect them to have very visible inclusions, which do not necessarily detract from the gemstone’s value.
Emeralds are 7-1/2 to 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
A common and generally accepted emerald treatment is oiling. Because of this, cleaning in an ultrasonic machine or steamer is never recommended. The best way to clean an emerald is with warm, soapy water. Avoid strong detergents and vigorous scrubbing.
June Birthstone - Pearls
Pearls are June’s birthstone. Natural pearls are organic and formed in the bodies of saltwater and freshwater mollusks.
They form around an irritation or abnormality naturally. Cultured pearls refer to pearls that form because of an irritant introduced by humans in order to produce large quantities of pearls. Both natural and cultured pearls are formed in layers called nacre. Nacre has a luster and sheen which pearls are known for.
Pearls are a classic gemstone and were very popular in the early and middle 20th century. During the past 20-30 years, their popularity has waned; however, a strand of pearls is still considered a must in every jewelry collection for formal, dressy occasions.
The pearl bracelet pictured above is made of cultured freshwater pearls with silver beads. It is a fine example of how a piece of pearl jewelry can be a very classic accessory.
Pearls come in many colors, but the most common are white or cream. Different colors are often denoted by trade or variety names, such as: Tahitian or South Seas, which are usually large and are white, yellow gray, or black, Oriental, which are natural saltwater pearls from the Persian Gulf, Venezuela, which are usually yellow and often have a green overtone, and Ceylon or Madras, which are green, blue, or purple on a white or cream background. Pearls may be bleached or dyed to improve their color.
Baroque pearls have asymmetrical shapes, and seed pearls are less than 2 mm in size and usually asymmetrical.
Pearls are 2-1/2 to 4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Never clean pearls in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. After each wearing, wipe them with a very soft, clean cloth. For more thorough cleaning, use soap and water, and make sure the string is dry before wearing.
July Birthstone - Ruby
Ruby is July’s birthstone. It is a member of the corundum family, as are sapphires. In fact, rubies are actually red sapphires and depending on which part of the world you are in, you may call a pink sapphire a ruby or vice versa depending on the shade of pink or red.
Rubies are beautiful gemstones that are part of the "big three" of fine jewelry ~ diamond, emerald, and ruby. These are generally some of the highest value gemstones to be found.
Above is an example of fine quality rubies set in a ruby and diamond necklace.
Above is an example of a ring made of rubies with lighter color. Although these are of lower quality than those in the necklace above, they are still beautiful stones which enhance any piece of jewelry.
And below in this gents ring is yet another shade of ruby:
Trade names for rubies include Burma or Burmese, which are considered to be the finest quality and color of rubies, with color sometimes referred to as pigeon’s blood, Thai, Siam, or Siamese, Ceylon or Sri Lankan, and African.
Rubies are Type II gemstones, meaning we expect to find minor eye-visible inclusions when grading a ruby. These are minor enough that they should not detract from the general appearance of the stone. If they do, the stone would be considered to be of a lesser grade.
Rubies are a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, just one step under diamond, the hardest gemstone.
Using warm, soapy water is always the safest way to clean rubies. However, unless the stone is oiled, using an ultrasonic cleaner or steamer is also an acceptable cleaning method.
August Birthstone - Peridot
Peridot is the birthstone of August. They are typically yellowish green to greenish yellow to brownish green.
Peridots are plentiful and often seen in retail jewelry stores. They are generally fairly inexpensive and hold up well in all types of jewelry.
Below is a peridot ring which contains a typical color you will see in many peridot gemstones.
Peridot trade names include chrysolite, which is used in Europe, and Hawaiiite, referring to peridot from Hawaii.
Peridot is a Type II gemstone, meaning we expect to find minor eye-visible inclusions when grading the stone. These are minor enough that they should not detract from the general appearance of the stone. If they do, the stone would be considered to be of a lesser grade.
Peridot is a 6-1/2 to 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
The safest way to clean your peridot jewelry is to use warm, soapy water. Ultrasonic machines are risky and steams are never recommended.
September Birthstone - Sapphire
Sapphire is September’s birthstone. Sapphires come in many different colors, although the blue sapphire is still the most plentiful.
Above is an example of a blue sapphire ring. The combination of clean, white diamonds with blue sapphires is stunning!
Below is a multicolored sapphire pendant which shows how striking the colored sapphires can be!
And finally, below is a ring which combines white sapphires with a pink sapphire center stone!
Trade names include Kashmir or Cashmere (also described as cornflower blue), which are considered the finest blue sapphires, Burma, Thai, Ceylon, Montana, African, and Australian.
Sapphires are Type II gemstones, meaning when grading a them, we expect to find minor eye-visible inclusions. These are minor enough that they should not detract from the general appearance of the stone. If they do, the stone would be considered to be of a lesser grade.
They are a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale —only diamonds are harder. This makes them an excellent choice for all types of jewelry: rings, necklaces, anklets, earrings, bracelets, and toe rings.
Using an ultrasonic machine or a steamer is usually safe when cleaning your sapphire jewelry. Warm, soapy water is always a safe choice as well.
October Birthstone - Tourmaline
Tourmaline and opal are October’s birthstones. Tourmalines come in many colors and are a popular choice for gemstone rings and pendants.
Tourmaline variety and trade names often reflect their color. For example, rubellite tourmaline is pinkish red, verdelite tourmaline is yellowish green to bluish green, indicolite tourmaline is violet to greenish blue, dravite tourmaline is yellow or brown, achroite tourmaline is colorless, watermelon tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the edges, and chrome tourmaline is an intense green.
Below is a sample of a chrome tourmaline:
And here is a rubellite tourmaline ring:
Below is a raspberry red tourmaline set in a beautiful ring:
Tourmaline clarity types vary based upon their color. Green tourmaline is a Type I gemstone , meaning when grading them, we expect them to be “eye-clean”, i.e. it’s difficult to see any flaws in the stone without magnification.
All other colors, except red, are Type II stones. When grading them, we expect to find minor eye-visible inclusions. These are minor enough that they should not detract from the general appearance of the stone. If they do, the stone would be considered to be of a lesser grade.
Red tourmaline is a Type III gemstone. We expect them to have very visible inclusions, and these inclusions will not necessarily detract from their value, depending on their size and location.
Tourmaline hardness is 7 to 7-1/2 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They are very suitable for most types of jewelry. Use warm, soapy water to clean your tourmaline jewelry. Ultrasonic machines and steamers are risky.
November Birthstone - Citrine
Citrine is November’s birthstone. It is a member of the quartz family, as is amethyst, and are generally yellow to orange in color.
Citrine is plentiful and is an affordable alternative to the more expensive yellow sapphire or yellow diamond. They look beautiful in rings, necklaces, bracelets or earrings, and are often accented with other stones, such as diamonds or topaz.
The above citrine ring set in 18K white gold is an example of how beautifully citrine can work in a well-made piece of jewelry.
Some of citrine’s variety or trade names include: topaz quartz, topaz, Spanish topaz, Saxon topaz, Madeira topaz, and citrine topaz.
Citrines are a clarity Type I, meaning we expect them to be “eye-clean”, showing no visible flaws or inclusions to the naked eye. Citrines with visible inclusions would be graded lower in quality.
They are a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making them very suitable for all types of jewelry.
When cleaning citrine jewelry, using an ultrasonic is usually safe, but do not use a steamer, as this is more risky. Warm, soapy water is always a safe alternative.
December Birthstone - Topaz
Blue Topaz, along with turquoise, is December’s birthstone. Although blue topaz is the most well-known and common, topaz comes in a variety of colors.
Here’s an example of a beautiful blue topaz ring:
Here is a pink topaz ring:
Below is the much more uncommon green topaz:
Topaz variety and trade names include imperial topaz, which is reddish orange, hyacinth, which is dark orange, and sherry, which is brownish yellow to yellow brown. Precious topaz is a term sometimes used to distinguish the fancy colored topaz from the more common blue topaz.
Topaz is a Type I gemstone, meaning when grading them, you would expect them to be “eye-clean”, i.e. with no visible flaws/inclusions without magnification. A topaz with visible flaws would be lower in value than a clean one of the same color and size.
They are an 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This is only two steps below the diamond and makes them eminently suitable for all types of jewelry. They are a relatively inexpensive way to add color to your jewelry collection.
Never use an ultrasonic machine or a steamer to clean your topaz jewelry. Warm, soapy water is the best way to keep topaz looking beautiful!