January's Birthstone - Garnet
Gem of plenty, Garnet is one of the few gem varieties that spans a broad spectrum of color. Named for its likeness to pomegranate seeds, garnet is best known for its shades of red. But most are surprised to learn that garnet is found in multiple hues of pink, purple, green, yellow, orange and brown. Lively, bright colors usually command higher prices in better qualities of garnet that are typically eye-clean. Rhodolite, particularly in its reddish colors, and spessartine, in bright orange red, are uncommon and considered more valuable, with the rarest garnets recognized as tsavorite and demantoid. Typically not enhanced, garnets need only warm soapy water and a soft brush to clean. An ultrasonic cleaner is safe for most varieties except andradite (demantoid). Steam cleaners are not recommended. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. January's birthstone, garnet is also the suggested gift for the 2nd wedding Anniversary.
February's Birthstone - Amethyst
A member of the Quartz family, Amethyst comes in a variety of purple shades of varying intensity - from pale lilac to reddish or bluish violet to deep purple with red highlights. Amethyst is considered the most highly prized variety of quartz, although very affordable. However, Amethyst in large sizes and rich, deep colors is rare and more costly. Amethyst is sometimes enhanced by traditional heating methods to lighten color and/or remove smoky components. Certain Amethyst are heated to produce citrine and green quartz (also called prasiolite). To clean Amethyst, use warm soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe, but steamers are not. Avoid contact with harsh chemicals. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. February's birthstone, Amethyst also is the favored gift for the 1st and 6th wedding Anniversaries, historically symbolizing sincerity and sacred love.
March's Birthstone - Aquamarine
Derived from the Latin word aqua marina, meaning seawater, Aquamarine is known as the gem of the sea. Sister to emerald and a member of the beryl family, Aquamarine is known for its range of serene, oceanic shades from pastel to medium light blue-green or light green to a deep blue. Even Aquamarine's blues have a green tinge. The color of Aquamarine can be quite intense in larger sizes, while it is often less vivid in smaller ones. Differences in shade and depth of color have an effect on its value. A gem that is a deep blue and void of internal birthmarks is considered most valuable. Aquamarine is routinely heated to remove yellow components. Use warm soapy water and soft brush to clean Aquamarine. Ultrasonic cleaners are generally safe. Avoid contact with harsh chemicals. Ask your jewelers for details regarding special enhancements and care. March's birthstone, Aquamarine is also the recognized gift for the 18th wedding Anniversary. Gem of youthful outlook, Aquamarine glints the fresh, young-at-heart qualities of those who wear it.
April's Birthstone - Diamond
Derived from the Latin adamas meaning the unconquerable, diamond has maintained its position throughout history as a perfect icon for love and marriage. Although white is the most common color, diamond actually comes in a variety of colorful hues including golden-yellow, pink, blue, green, champagne, cognac, chocolate and black. Fancy yellow and pink diamonds have become popular choices for bridal rings, commanding high prices for vivid hues in fine quality. Naturally occurring fancy colored diamonds are typically more rare and expensive than white, with true red being most uncommon, followed by blue and then green. Value is not only based on availability, but also intensity of color, clarity (lack of internal birthmarks) and size. Some diamonds are heated and/or irradiated to induce fancy colors. Others may undergo high-pressure, high-temperature enhancement to improve color and brilliance. To clean diamonds use warm soapy water, rinse well and pat dry to avoid residue. Mild solvents, ammonia-based cleaning agents and mechanical cleaners are generally safe. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. April's birthstone, Diamond is the favored gift for the 10th and 60th wedding Anniversaries. Symbolizing lasting love and friendship, diamond was believed to inspire loyalty, rouse romance and encourage a joyful life.
May's Birthstone - Emerald
Prized for its vivid rich green color as far back as the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, Emerald boasts a long history as a jewel fit for kings and queens. Sister to Aquamarine and a member of the beryl family, Emerald is known for its distinctive color. However, the shades of green in which Emerald are found can very from light to dark, sometimes revealing a cool blue-green or warm yellowish-green. Typically, the more vivid the green is the more valuable the Emerald. Also constituting value is size, as Emeralds over 2 carats are harder to come by, and clarity as eye-clean gems are exceptional. Because Emerald inherently possesses visible internal birthmarks, which could compromise durability, clarity and color in faceted gems, traditional enhancements such as oils are commonly used. Although Emerald is practically as hard as sapphire and ruby, these natural markings require special care when wearing and cleaning this gem. Avoid impacts and contact with harsh chemicals, and cleanse with warm water and a soft brush or soft damp cloth. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. May's birthstone, Emerald is the chosen gift for 20th or 35th wedding Anniversary. Emerald is popular gem choice for brides who want to express their individuality. Take a cue from Jackie Kennedy who received an Emerald ring from John F. Kennedy, as did Camilla Parker Bowles from Prince Charles.
June's Birthstone - Alexandrite/Pearl
June shares two stones to celebrate its month. The first is Alexandrite, named after Alexander II Czar of Russia. Alexandrite was discovered on this ruler's birthday in the early 1830's. A rare form of the gem chrysoberyl, Alexandrite changes color in different lighting. In daylight it is emerald green, blue-green or pastel green. In incandescent light, it is violet, ruby red or purple. Its value is based on the limited quantity in which it is found, its size (rare over 2 carats), clarity and quality of color change. Alexandrite is not typically enhanced. To clean, use soapy water, alcohol or commercial solvents. Ultrasonic or steam cleaners are safe. A June birthstone, Alexandrite is also recognized gift for the 55th wedding Anniversary.
Pearls are most commonly thought of as round and white, but they come in many shapes (i.e. oval, teardrop and freeform) and colors (cream, pink, peach, cinnamon, gold, blue-gray and black). A Pearl's color is a combination of its body and overtone color (orient). Pearls are available in both saltwater and freshwater varieties. Five factors determine value: luster, orient, surface-cleanliness, shape and size, as well as availability with saltwater production far less than freshwater. Pearls are commonly bleached to achieve uniform color. Some are dyed to get black, gray, blue, rose and golden hues, as well as fashion colors. Wipe pearls clean with a soft, dry or damp cloth. Mild soapy water is fine, but not mechanical cleaners. Avoid contact with chemicals. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. A June birthstone, Pearl is a recognized gift for the 3rd and 30th wedding Anniversaries.
July's Birthstone - Ruby
With a name derived from the Latin ruber meaning red, this corundum family gem, sister to sapphire, only comes in one color. But, the shades of red in which it comes vary from purplish and bluish red to orangey red in medium to dark tones. Color is the key when considering value. Prized colors are pure red with no overtones of brown or blue. Better qualities are usually eye-clean. Ruby in sizes over 2 carats is difficult to come by. In its finest quality, any size is rare. Rubies are routinely enhanced by traditional heating methods to produce, intensify or lighten color and/or improve clarity. To clean ruby, use soapy water or commercial solvent and a brush. Mechanical cleaners are generally safe. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. July's birthstone, Ruby is also recognized as the traditional gift for the 15th and 40th wedding Anniversaries. Historically, Ruby was believed to attract and maintain love. In fact, Ruby is a popular gem choice for brides who want to express their unique personality, like Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
August's Birthstone - Peridot
A volcanic gem, Peridot ranges in color from yellowish green to deep olive. While its color can be exceptional, it will never reach the shade of green or intensity characteristics of emerald. The finest Peridot is green with no tinge of yellow or brown. Peridot comes in a variety of shapes and small sizes, but larger gemstones, especially in flawless quality, are difficult to find. Peridot is routinely enhanced. Use warm soapy water and a soft brush to clean Peridot, not ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Avoid rough treatment and contact with harsh chemicals. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. Augusts' birthstone, Peridot is also recognized as the preferred gift for the 16th wedding Anniversary. Historically, Peridot was believed to bring happiness, attract love and foster friendship. Gem of bliss and good fortune, Peridot illuminates the sunny disposition of those who wear it.
September's Birthstone - Blue Sapphire
Most commonly know for its shades of celestial blue, Sapphire actually comes in almost every color but red, which is exclusive to its sister ruby in the corundum family. Next to diamond, Sapphire is the second hardest gemstone, ideal for all types of jewelry, especially rings. Although the name is derived from the Latin word for blue, sapphirus, Sapphire is actually available in yellow, peach, orange, cognac, pink, violet, purple and green, as well as colorless, white, gray and black. The purer the color of a natural Sapphire, the greater the price it can command. Better quality Sapphires are usually eye-clean. Typically, Sapphires over 2 carats are more difficult to find. Sapphires are routinely enhanced by traditional heating methods to produce, intensify or lighten color and/or improve clarity. To clean Sapphire, use soapy water or commercial solvent and a brush. Mechanical cleaners are generally safe. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. September's birthstone, Sapphire is also the preferred gift for the 5th and 45th wedding Anniversaries. Sapphire is a popular gem choice for brides who want to express their unique personality. Fans of Sapphire engagement rings include Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne, Princess Diana, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Ivana Trump, Kirstie Alley and Debra Messing.
October's Birthstone - Opal / Tourmaline
Described by the Ancient Romans as the "Queen of all Gems," Opal is a chameleon encompassing the essence of every gem in one. Its name means to see a change of color, which this "phenomenal" gem shows in unusual optical effects of shifting spectral hues described as play of color. Opal occurs in several types; the most common is white opal with vibrant pastel flashes. Black opal has a blue, gray or black body with more dramatic color play. Boulder opal is black opal with some of the ironstone in which it occurs. Crystal opal is clear with glints of swimming color. Fire opal has a yellow, orange or red body - with or without color play. Value is typically based on the brilliance and pattern of the play of color, as well as size, with larger gemstones more valuable. Opals are commonly enhanced to improve durability and appearance, except fire opal. To care for Opal, clean with a soft dry or damp cloth. Rub periodically with an olive oil-moistened cloth. Do not soak Opal, use mechanical cleaners or allow them to come in contact with harsh chemicals. Avoid impacts. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. An October birthstone, Opal is favored as a gift for the 14th wedding Anniversary.
Perhaps the most diverse gemstone available, Tourmaline possesses a dazzling array of colors. Moreover, there are bi-colored and tri-colored Tourmalines where two or more colors appear side by side in the same gemstone. The name Tourmaline means multi-colored, a modest description of the variety that exists in this mineral family, which includes dark green chrome tourmaline, deep blue to blue-green indicolite, pink to deep red rubellite and watermelon tourmaline. Color determines price, with lively, mid-colored gems valuable. Tourmalines are commonly enhanced by traditional heating methods. To clean Tourmaline, use warm soapy water or mild detergent. Avoid ultrasonic and steam cleaners. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. An October birthstone, Tourmaline is also the chosen gift for the 8th wedding Anniversary.
November's Birthstone - Citrine / Topaz
Derived from the French word citron, meaning lemon, Citrine can vary in color from pure yellow to golden honey to smoky brown. Of all the earth-toned gems, Citrine is one of the most popular and affordable. Known for having good luster, Citrine is available in all sizes. Generally, the most valued types are in intense orange colors. Heating various types of quartz produces Citrine. Heat enhancement is also routinely performed to lighten Citrine's color. To clean Citrine, use warm soapy water and a soft brush. An ultrasonic cleaner is generally safe, but a steamer is risky. Avoid contact with harsh chemicals. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. A November birthstone, Citrine is the recommended gift for the 13th wedding Anniversary. Gem of joy and contentment, Citrine illuminates the sunny disposition of those wear it.
The name Topaz is believed to have derived from the ancient Sanskrit word tapas, meaning fire. Topaz comes in a variety of colors with the most rare being natural pink, red and fine golden orange. Intense fiery-golden imperial Topaz, particularly in medium to large sizes, is considered among the most valuable. The ready availability of blue topaz makes it the most affordable. Colorless Topaz is routinely heated and irradiated to produce blue, red or green colors. Topaz in yellow and orange is occasionally irradiated to intensify color. Brown Topaz is not commonly enhanced. To clean Topaz, use warm water, a soft damp cloth and a soft brush. Although Topaz is hard, it cleaves and a sudden impact can cause a break. Ask your jeweler for details regarding special enhancements and care. A November birthstone, Topaz is recognized as a gift for the 23rd wedding Anniversary, symbolizing love, truth and devotion.
December's Birthstone - Zircon
Zircon's fire, brilliance, and beauty can rival any gem. The affordability of its vibrant greens, sky blues, and pleasing earth tones contributes to its growing popularity today. Once considered a diamond alternative, today we know that natural zircons are in fact the most ancient materials on Earth, holding within their brilliant depths a time capsule of our planet's birth. A tiny fragment of zircon discovered in Western Australia is the oldest known object on earth: 4.404 billion years old. Earth itself formed less than 150 million years earlier. Zircon is mined in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries. Because it can be colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red, and all the colors in between, it is a popular gem for connoisseurs who collect different colors or zircon from different localities. Zircon jewelry should be stored carefully because although this ancient gem is hard, facets can abrade and chip. Zircon is safe to clean in an ultrasonic cleaner or clean with mild soap. December's birthstone, Zircon is the traditional birthstone for December, but growing in popularity are Turquoise and Tanzanite.