Top 8 Diamond Myths Debunked

Sparkling Diamond
Diamond gem with reflection on blue background (Bigstock)

Most people have a general idea about and how diamonds and how they are made are. After all, as the most popular gemstone on the planet, their appearance and value are common knowledge. Those who have purchased diamond jewelry, especially engagement rings, are also quite acquainted with its 4 Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat. However, despite its popularity, much of the information about this precious gemstone is often misunderstood.

So, if you think you know everything about diamonds, read on for some fascinating new insights into the world of the diamond!

Today, we’re going to debunk some of the most common diamond myths.

Myth #1: All Diamonds are from Natural Resources

Not all diamonds are natural! Lab-made diamonds aren’t synthetic diamonds but are very real.

You may have seen the Superman series where he crushes a piece of coal to form a diamond. These tales of natural diamonds being made through pressurized coal are one of the most common myths surrounding this gem.

The fact is that diamonds are not made of coal. Natural diamonds undergo a system of exceptionally higher pressures and temperatures from coal which are only found deep inside the earth’s mantle). Coal is found much higher up.

Diamond Labs

The issue of finding diamonds is rectified by having them created in a lab. Many companies started making diamonds by creating a high-temperature and high-pressure lab environment. This practice goes back to the 1950s. These labs mimic the conditions of the earth’s mantle, where natural diamond deposits are present, to create similar human-made gems.

Today, almost 800 tons of man-made diamonds are produced yearly, which is about 150 times more than natural diamonds. 

Myth #2: Diamonds are the Most Valuable Gemstone

Ruby Ring in a BoxA common misconception is that diamonds are the priciest, most valuable gems on the planet. While it’s true that they are one of the four most precious minerals that command high prices, it isn’t possible to judge specific gem species as the most valuable. There are various factors that come into play to evaluate their value, including its size, quality, color, and rarity. For example, pure red rubies are one of the rarest stones, and so they command much higher prices than diamonds. 

Myth #3: The Bigger, the Better!

pollo_synthetic_diamond
Wikipedia

Carats are a unit measure of the weight of a diamond, not its size. A diamond’s size is as your eye sees it, which is largely impacted by the depth of the table-to-pavilion ratio and cut proportions. More importantly, a diamond’s perceived size is impacted by its light performance, which means that the better a diamond catches and reflects light (called fire), the bigger and more attractive it will be perceived to look.

Besides this, compromising on other factors just to buy a huge diamond isn’t going to get you the appearance you’re looking for. The large size of a diamond cannot compensate for its visible inclusions, distorted proportions, and/or poor light performance. So, although size does matter, so does the cut, clarity, color, and rarity of a crystal. Always remember that a huge diamond won’t be more valuable if it has poor clarity and color. 

Interesting Note: The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second but it is slowed down when it hits a diamond (or glass) and the more it hits the diamond on an angle, the more it will reflect the light. So the more angels the diamond has, the more light that will be reflected back. This is where the cut of a diamond determines the amount of brilliance and fire the gemstone has. ‘Cut’ is one of the 4Cs that determine a diamond’s value. So the next time you hear how much fire does a diamond have?, you’ll know they are talking about how well the diamond cuts are!

Myth #4: Diamonds Are Indestructible

There’s no doubt about the fact that diamonds are the strongest, most durable gemstone with a rating of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. However, this doesn’t mean that these gems are indestructible. Diamonds are tough, but rough usage and inappropriate handling can chip and break these gems. For instance, a diamond with a particularly shallow crown is susceptible to damage. This also applies to diamonds with a thin girdle.

Myth #5: All Diamonds are Flawless

There’s no such thing as a flawless natural gemstone. All gemstones, including diamonds, have some type of flaws, which is another factor in the 4Cs – color. The more the flaws, the more the mineral will shy away from a colorless diamond. Natural diamonds usually contain impurities in their carbon crystal, which gives them a yellowish hue as their crystal absorbs light of a specific frequency. You may come across some colorless natural diamonds that have negligible impurities, but they are usually very rare and hence, quite expensive.

Myth #6: Diamond Engagement Rings are an Ancient Marriage Tradition

Diamond Engagement Ring
Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

This may be hard to believe, but diamond engagement rings became popular in the 20th century. In fact, rubies and sapphires were the most precious and popular ring gems back in the day. Diamonds became popular due to the magnificent ad campaign run in the 1940s by a mining conglomerate known as DeBeers. Their attention-grabbing advertisements created a place for diamonds in the public’s heart and paved the way for the present diamond engagement ring phenomenon.

Myth #7: Diamonds are Unusually Rare

There is no doubt that diamonds are incredibly attractive and a highly valuable gem. But, compared to other colored stones, diamonds are quite common. Millions of people own diamond jewelry around the world, which means that diamonds are more prevalent and easy to find in the market. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t desirable or luxurious; it rather means that, unlike other gemstones, diamonds don’t derive their worth from scarcity.

Myth #8: The 4Cs are the Only Way to Determine a Diamond’s Value

The 4Cs are a globally accepted standard to determine the value of a diamond by evaluating its features. This guide was developed mainly to make diamond shopping easier for consumers by allowing them to assess the stone’s quality and choose the ideal piece. However, the 4Cs aren’t the sole determinants of a diamond’s value. Age, history, and rarity are also contributors to a diamond’s appraisal.

Wrapping Up

By now, you’re aware that most of the things you learned about diamonds from grade school and hearsays are myths. One thing we can say for sure is that diamonds are one of the most precious stones that are generally stunning and can command exceptionally high prices. 

However, it is always good to uncover the facts so that you know what you’re getting into. Don’t let the most common diamond myths listed above deter you from purchasing one. Instead, we hope that learning about these myths helps you make a more informed decision.

 

4 Critically Endangered Species in The World

Photo of a ferret
Image by Christel SAGNIEZ from Pixabay

Nature has its way of creating balance on the planet. The presence of plants and animals, along with humans, is one of the ways to maintain this balance. Yet, human existence may be one of the biggest threats to the survival of animals. Human activities are not only leading to loss of habitat but are also causing extensive damage to ecosystems due to climatic change. In all, it means that natural habitats will continue to disappear, and several species of animals will be extinct in the future. 

The species that we highlight in this post are some of the rarest creatures on earth. And they are not only rare but are also critically endangered, which means they have a high risk of extinction. Let’s learn more about these species and maybe you can help to save them. 

Addax 

Addax in the field
Photo by Dušan veverkolog on Unsplash

Addax is part of the antelope family and is on the critically endangered list, with an estimated population of between 30 and 90 individuals in the wild. Also known as white antelope, only a few Addax can be found in the Sahara Desert. While you might never catch a glimpse of them in the wild, several natural conservation programs have managed to save a population of around 2,000 addaxes in captivity. You can also find Addax in many zoos around the world. 

One of the most critical reasons for the severe decline in the population of Addax is unregulated hunting. Due to this uncontrolled human activity, the animal that was previously found in North Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, and Western Sahara can now not be seen in the wild. In recent years, a few wildlife preserves are taking measures to successfully breed Addax and increase its population so the numbers of Addax out in the wild can increase. While there is still a long way to go, the longer expectancy (of up to 25 years in captivity) is a ray of hope in increasing the endangered species population. 

Cross River Gorilla 

cross river gorillaAlmost all species of gorillas are vulnerable, but the Cross River Gorilla makes the most critically endangered giant ape. The creature was first identified in 1907. However, it remained largely ignored till the end of the last century. In 1987 when researchers began to take notice of the species, the population was already low. Similar to the reason for the extinction of several other species, uncontrolled human activities are to be blamed for the low population of Cross River Gorillas.

Loss of habitat and poaching remains the biggest threat to the giant ape. Moreover, the species prefers to live in very small groups that often do not interact. As a result, they inbreed, which leads to a loss of genetic diversity and a weaker gene pool, which may contribute to its low population.  

It is estimated that the current population of Cross River Gorillas in the wild is between 250 and 300. The population primarily resides in the densest forests and hill areas of the Cameroon-Nigeria border at the source of the Cross River. Moreover, there is only one known Cross River Gorilla in captivity. WWF is now working towards designating new protected areas where the primate population may thrive. 

Saola 

Also known as the Asian Unicorn, saola also makes the list of critically endangered species. The animal was first discovered in 1992 by authorities from the Ministry of Forestry of Vietnam and officials from WWF. The Asian mammal has only been seen out in the wild a few times since its discovery, hence there is limited information about its actual population in the wild. However, according to estimates, the population of saola ranges between 25 and 700.

Another estimate about the population of saola claims that only less than 250 saolas can be found in the wild. However, there is none in captivity. Because of this reason, it is almost impossible to introduce a breeding program or take other measures to increase the population of saola. 

Amur Leopard 

The giant cat species around the world are declining in number, but the most critically endangered species of giant cats is the Amur Leopard. With a known wild population of fewer than 100 adults, the giant cat resides primarily in the Amur River basin of eastern Russia, with a few spread across the northern part of China.

Similar to Cross River Gorillas, Amur Leopards also lack genetic variation due to inbreeding, resulting in weaker offspring. Hence, they naturally have a lower population. The problem intensified due to uncontrolled human activities. Eventually, the giant cat species fell prey to illegal poaching and loss of habitat. 

Fortunately, there are more than 150 leopards in captivity. Moreover, they have a longer life span of more than 20 years in captivity, which gives hope to humanity to increase the population of this critically endangered species of leopards. 

Several other animals list critically endangered species, including Javan rhinos, Vaquita, Asian elephants, and snow leopards. Uncontrolled human activities that led to a loss of habitat and poaching remain one of the top reasons these creatures are on the brink of extinction. And while human activities have led to this loss, we still have time to take appropriate measures so some of these rare species can recover shortly. At the end of the day, restoring natural habitats for endangered species is the only way to restore balance on the planet. 

 

Catastrophic Earthquakes in Haiti

Birds eye view of Haiti
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, so it doesn’t take much for death and destruction to occur when a catastrophe hits. More developed nations have higher quality construction for their infrastructure which helps to curtail some of the destruction when a major event happens. 

Additionally, developed countries have well-equipped first responders and hospitals that can handle disasters such as earthquakes. Haiti does not. Suffice it to say, there will be more injuries and fatalities for countries such as Haiti than in other, more technologically advanced locations.

Earthquake History in Haiti

Earthquakes have been causing extensive destruction on this island for quite some time. Starting from the 18th century, when the capital Port-au-Prince experienced severe damage twice within 19 years, the trend continues to date. 

During this century, the island has already been devastated by an earthquake thrice, with the most recent one striking on August 14, 2021. The quake of magnitude 7.2 struck around 78 miles from Port-au-Prince, killing, injuring, and displacing thousands of people, and resulting in millions of dollars of losses. 

Let’s take a closer look and understand why Haiti is more prone to earthquakes and get a detailed insight into some of the most devastating earthquakes that have hit the island recently. 

Why are Earthquakes in Haiti a Common Occurrence?

The Earth’s crust is made of tectonic plates, and each of the plates moves in a certain position. There are seven major tectonic plates along with ten minor tectonic plates. Earthquakes occur when the tectonic plates slowly brush against each other and result in friction. When there is enough buildup of friction, the fault lines suddenly move and lead to an earthquake. 

If you look at the location of Haiti on the map, it sits near the intersection of major and minor tectonic plates, namely the North American Plate and the Caribbean plate. Moreover, multiple fault lines cut through the plates near the island of Hispaniola, a region that Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, not all tectonic plates behave the same way. The transition from sliding past each other to smashing together leads to frequent and intense earthquakes. 

Haitian family outside of their cinder block house
Haitian family outside of their cinder block house in the town of Hinche.
Photo by SS

Part of the reason is the dense population of the island. A population of more than 11 million people results in more damage to lives when natural catastrophes occur. Moreover, many of the buildings are constructed using cinder blocks, which can withstand strong winds and hurricanes, but they are not very sturdy (as compared to concrete blocks) and are prone to buckling. Not an ideal structure when an earthquake comes along.

Most Devastating Earthquakes of the 21st Century 

Now that you know why earthquakes in Haiti are devastating, let’s look at some of the most damaging ones that hit the island in this century. 

The 2010 Earthquake – Port-au-Prince 

A large-scale earthquake that measured 7.0 on the Richter’s scale hit the island on January 12, 2010. The quake hit around 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, followed by two aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.9 and 5.5, respectively. The island experienced more aftershocks in the days that followed. The 2010 earthquake was the worst quake that hit the island since the 18th century. 

Communications were disrupted and led to extensive damage to life and property. The death toll for this earthquake is not known. However, it resulted in millions of casualties and hundreds and thousands of people being displaced due to the chaos. 

Initially, geologists believed that the earthquake resulted from the movement of the little Caribbean place towards the east; however, it was just an initial estimation. Later, geologists found out that it was a result of contractional deformation along the Leogane fault. Léogâne is a town is located about 19 miles west of  Port-au-Prince.

The damage that occurred due to the 2010 earthquake was fairly extensive because the origin was relatively shallow (at a depth of 8.1 miles), which increased the intensity with which the ground shook. Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas were among the worst affected. The island that was already recovering from the infrastructural damage due to tropical hurricanes in 2008 was not equipped to deal with a disaster of this magnitude.

In addition, since Haiti is considered to be the poorest country in Western Hemisphere, it did not have the resources to properly restore its infrastructure. Hence, international organizations, including the United Nations, had to work in collaboration with the Government of Haiti to establish a plan for reconstructing the island.

The 2018 Earthquake – Port-de-Paix 

While the island was still recovering from the earthquake of 2010 and its after-effects, another major quake hit the island. This time, it was not as intense as it was in 2010. However, it hit the island with a magnitude of 5.9. It struck around 12 miles northwest of Port-de-Paix, killing around 18 people and injuring more than 180 individuals. While there was a limited loss of lives, there was extensive damage to property, including commercial and residential locations. 

The earthquake was felt in Port-au-Prince along with the neighboring Dominican Republic and is one of the strongest hits to the Caribbean nation since 2010. 

The 2021 Earthquake – Nippes, Les Cayes

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck Haiti on August 14th, 2021. The epicenter was 6.2 miles deep, and the tremor was strongly felt approximately 91 miles west of the capital. The resulting damage was extensive. However, it was much less than what the nation experienced in 2010. According to initial estimates, more than 1.2 million people have been affected by the quake with about 2,000 people have lost their lives. There was also extensive damage to infrastructure, including schools and residential buildings. 

To date, the 2021 earthquake is considered to be the deadliest earthquake that has hit the island since 2010. 

Conclusion 

Haiti sits on the intersection between two tectonic plates, which is also a region of several fault lines. Hence, earthquakes are and may likely be a frequent occurrence on the island. The damage is always extensive because of the lack of appropriate infrastructural facilities on the island.

A Guide to Citrine

Citrine Mineral
Citrine – A stunning yellow gemstone to add to your jewelry collection 

With its beautiful sunny glow, citrine has been long believed to be a treasured gift from the sun. As a variety of quartz minerals, citrine gets its name from the French word ‘citron,’ which means ‘lemon.’ With colors ranging from lemon yellow to a rich honey gold, citrine can light up any piece of jewelry due to its warm sunny shade. The stone is more affordable than most gems because it is available in abundance like all other quartz gems.

History of Citrine

Citrine was one of the most popular gems back in the 1940s. Its bright color and dramatic proportions led this gem to become one of the boldest stones of the era. Citrine was often set with aquamarines and rubies in colorful jewelry pieces, including necklaces, brooches, and bracelets. 

What Does Citrine Symbolize?

Due to its bright color that emanates a beautiful golden glow, citrine is believed to symbolize optimism. In ancient times, however, this gem was believed to possess the power to protect one against evil words and thoughts. 

Where is Citrine Found?

Most citrines available on the market have been mined in Brazil. Bolivia is another country that has become a leading producer of the gem. In fact, Bolivia also produces a gem known as ametrine, which is the unique combination of amethyst and citrine. Additionally, citrine is also found in Namibia, Zambia, and Tanzania. 

Citrine very rarely occurs naturally. Most citrines start out as amethysts and are then heat-treated to become yellow or yellowish-brown. So, if you do get your hands on a citrine, it’s best to assume that it has been heat-treated. 

Before modern gemology, citrine was often confused with topaz. In fact, many people still refer to citrine as topaz quartz. The truth is that topaz is a completely different mineral that is not to be confused with citrine. 

How to Buy Citrine

As with any mineral, there are the 4 C’s guidelines you need to consider when buying citrine. 

Color

Although citrine is generally thought to be a yellow gemstone, its colors can range from a light lemony hue to an earthy brown shade. Even though everyone has their own preference when it comes to color, it is important to see for saturated colors with an even tone across the stone. The most valuable citrine is the one with a saturated golden hue with fiery orange flashes. 

Clarity

As with all colored gemstones, the same rule applies to citrine: the clearer, the better. Inclusions and blemishes can considerably degrade the value of a gemstone. Due to the fairly light color of citrine, you will often come across stones with very visible inclusions. However, since citrine is found in huge quantities, you don’t need to compromise on the clarity and quality of the gem. When buying citrine, make sure to search for eye-clean gemstones that have no prominent inclusions, cracks, or blemishes. 

Carat

With citrine being available abundantly, you can find them in some enormous sizes. Citrine is often readily available in huge carat sizes that can be used in eye-catching pendants or chunky earrings or rings. The best part about this gem is that you can buy even a 10 or 20-carat gem at a very reasonable price. 

Cut

Citrine is a fairly durable gem that can easily be cut in the most stunning shapes. Besides the basic cuts, this gem can also include some fancy carvings, cabochons, and even flower cuts. It is quite important to pay attention to the quality of the cut, as it is what ultimately determines the beauty of the gem. A well-cut citrine will emanate a brilliant sparkle evenly across the entire gem. 

How to Care for Citrine

Citrine is a fairly durable gem but isn’t as strong and durable as you’d want it to be. The facets of citrine slowly wear down over time due to the dust in the air. Although citrine has a stable color, exposure to high heat may end up deteriorating the color over time. Additionally, if you’re wearing a citrine ring, you will have to wear it very carefully since it can be prone to chipping. 

The best way to clean citrine is with mild dish soap and water. It is also recommended to take off your jewelry when applying creams or lotions. Moreover, make sure to store all your gems separately to keep them from scratching each other. 

Citrine vs. Yellow Sapphire

When it comes to appearance, yellow sapphire is the only yellow gem that comes closest to citrine. However, these gems differ in many other ways. For instance, while a yellow sapphire has a hardness rating of 9, citrine has a hardness rating of 7, deeming it fairly weaker than sapphires. Also, citrines are found in abundance, which is reflected by their affordable prices. Sapphires, on the other hand, are rarer and much more expensive. 

Citrine for Engagement Rings 

Although diamonds and sapphires are the most popular gemstone choices for engagement rings, don’t underestimate the power and beauty of citrine. With a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrines are fairly hard and durable stones that can be used for engagement rings. The most popular engagement ring style is a halo ring with a pave band. Other options include large citrine solitaires and three-stone citrine rings that feature a stunning round or emerald-cut citrine stone in the center with two diamonds on either side. The beautiful shades of yellow also allow citrines to go well with different metals, including yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. 

The Bottom Line – Why We Love Citrine

Citrine is the alternative birthstone for the month of November. Found in various styles, shapes, and some stunning colors, citrine is certainly a treasured stone. This gem is loved by many mainly due to its warm color, lovely shades of golden, and affordability. Whether you’re looking to incorporate a beautiful yellow gem in your necklace, bracelet, or engagement ring, citrine should be your top choice. 

How Do Glaciers Form?

The Alpine Glaciers 

Mountain or alpine glaciers are the ones that are formed on the mountainside and move downward over the mountainous slopes. It is possible for alpine glaciers to even create or deepen valleys as the accumulated ice exerts pressure over land, pushing it downwards. Alpine glaciers can be commonly found in almost all continents (except Australia). Some of the most famous alpine glaciers include Gorner Glacier in Switzerland and Furtwangler Glacier in Tanzania

Ice Sheets 

Unlike alpine glaciers, ice sheets are not limited to the mountainous region. Instead, they are more like a sheet of ice that spreads from the center in all directions. As the ice sheet spreads, it covers everything under the thick coat of ice, including plain areas, valleys and even mountains. Continental ice sheets are large ice sheets that cover a large area. As of now, the continental ice sheet covers most of Antarctica and Greenland.

Additionally, ice sheets covered much of Europe and North America during the Ice Age, when around 33% of the planet was covered with ice. As the climate changes, glacial ice sheets, so far cover only 10% of the land. Due to the ancient glacial ice sheets and the pressure they exerted on land, many of the landscapes on Earth exist in their present form. 

How Do Glaciers Form?

It might come as a surprise, but it all starts with a snowflake. However, it takes an incredible amount of snow to form and pile up as a glacier. Once the snow accumulates, the snowflakes, given their structure, begin to compress each other and pile up each year. When the snow accumulates year after year, it changes from fluffy and soft snowflakes into round ice pellets. With new snow coming over the buried hardened snow, the latter hardens and becomes even more compressed. Eventually, it changes into dense, grainy ice, which is known as firm

The process continues, and layers of firn build on top of each other. When the thickness of ice grows up to 160 feet, the firn changes from grainy ice into a solid mass, which is how a glacier is formed. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. This process of formation takes over a hundred years, which is minuscule compared to that age of the earth (4.5 billion years). 

Because of its weight, the solid mass of ice is so heavy that it begins to move. Moreover, the glacier exerts pressure on the underlying firn and snow due to its weight, which eventually melts without any temperature change. 

In the case of alpine glaciers, gravity plays an important role. However, some glaciers do not flow down the entire length of the mountain. Instead, the ice falls from the hanging glaciers to the larger collection of ice in the valley below. Avalanches and ice falls are common occurrences for alpine glaciers. 

On the other hand, the ice sheet spreads out differently. The giant mass of ice spreads in all directions and covers everything that comes in its path. However, the speed at which the glacier spreads varies because different parts move at different speeds. And it is because of the difference between the speeds at which the glacier spreads, there is tension within the upper part of the ice mass and consequently, you find cracks known as crevasses on top of the glacier. 

Crevasses can be particularly dangerous for mountaineers as they can open up and be quite deep. Another formation that you can find within a glacier is a deep, almost vertical pipeline known as moulins. They are formed due to meltwater on top of the glacier and are often much deeper, and go all the way down to the bottom of the glacier. 

Given that glaciers are a heavy mass of ice, they move due to their weight. Most glaciers move slowly, but some can move as much as 160 feet a day. These fast-moving glaciers are known as galloping glaciers

When the glacier meets the coast, it is known as a tidewater glacier. Due to constant interaction with water, the edges of the giant ice glacier break into the water, and this process is known as calving. The large chunks of ice that break as a result of calving are known as icebergs. 

Zone of Accumulation 

The area in which glacial ice forms is known as the zone of accumulation. In this region, more snow accumulates every winter compared to the snow that melts away during summer. The snow that is buried inside turns into firn and eventually crystallizes into glacial ice. Once glacial ice is formed, it flows away from the zone of accumulation under its weight. In the case of alpine glaciers, the glacial ice flows downwards, but in the case of ice sheets, there is a lateral flow of accumulated ice. 

On the other hand, there is a zone of wastage. It is the glacier area that experiences more glacial ice melting than the formation of new ice. 

The line that separates the zone of an accumulation from the zone of separation is the snow line, which may be visible at the end of the summer season. 

The Impact of Climate Change on Glaciers

The formation of glaciers is a long process. It takes more than a hundred years to accumulate enough snow that it converts into glacial ice. However, uncontrolled human activities, including greenhouse gas production, contribute to an overall increase in the global temperature. And, of course, it will eventually have an impact on glacial ice. 

According to scientists, glacial ice is melting at a much higher rate than ever before. And studies claim the change will be much more drastic in the next thirty years. Alpine glaciers are under the most threat to global climate change. In addition, the ice sheets are also melting, contributing to an overall increase in global sea levels. 

One of the key concerns associated with the melting of glacial ice is that glaciers are a source of fresh water. But once it melts and becomes part of the ocean, it no longer remains as a water source. Hence, with melting glaciers, the concern is not just about the rising sea levels, but there can be other consequences as well as in the future.

4 Critically Endangered Species in The World

Nature has its way of creating balance on the planet. The presence of plants and animals, along with humans, is one of the ways to maintain this balance. Yet, human existence may be one of the biggest threats to the survival of animals. Human activities are not only leading to loss of habitat but are also causing extensive damage to ecosystems due to climatic change. In all, it means that natural habitats will continue to disappear, and several species of animals will be extinct in the future. 

The species that we highlight in this post are some of the rarest creatures on earth. And they are not only rare but are also critically endangered, which means they have a high risk of extinction. Let’s learn more about these species and maybe you can help to save them. 

Addax 

Addax is part of the antelope family and is on the critically endangered list, with an estimated population of between 30 and 90 individuals in the wild. Also known as white antelope, only a few Addax can be found in the Sahara Desert. While you might never catch a glimpse of them in the wild, several natural conservation programs have managed to save a population of around 2,000 addaxes in captivity. You can also find Addax in many zoos around the world. 

One of the most critical reasons for the severe decline in the population of Addax is unregulated hunting. Due to this uncontrolled human activity, the animal that was previously found in North Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, and Western Sahara can now not be seen in the wild. In recent years, a few wildlife preserves are taking measures to successfully breed Addax and increase its population so the numbers of Addax out in the wild can increase. While there is still a long way to go, the longer expectancy (of up to 25 years in captivity) is a ray of hope in increasing the endangered species population. 

Cross River Gorilla 

Almost all species of gorillas are vulnerable, but the Cross River Gorilla makes the most critically endangered giant ape. The creature was first identified in 1907. However, it remained largely ignored till the end of the last century. In 1987 when researchers began to take notice of the species, the population was already low. Similar to the reason for the extinction of several other species, uncontrolled human activities are to be blamed for the low population of Cross River Gorillas. Loss of habitat and poaching remains the biggest threat to the giant ape. Moreover, the species prefers to live in very small groups that often do not interact. As a result, they inbreed, which leads to a loss of genetic diversity and a weaker gene pool, which may contribute to its low population.  

It is estimated that the current population of Cross River Gorillas in the wild is between 250 and 300. The population primarily resides in the densest forests and hill areas of the Cameroon-Nigeria border at the source of the Cross River. Moreover, there is only one known Cross River Gorilla in captivity. WWF is now working towards designating new protected areas where the primate population may thrive. 

Saola 

Also known as the Asian Unicorn, saola also makes the list of critically endangered species. The animal was first discovered in 1992 by authorities from the Ministry of Forestry of Vietnam and officials from WWF. The Asian mammal has only been seen out in the wild a few times since its discovery, hence there is limited information about its actual population in the wild. However, according to estimates, the population of saola ranges between 25 and 700. Another estimate about the population of saola claims that only less than 250 saolas can be found in the wild. However, there is none in captivity. Because of this reason, it is almost impossible to introduce a breeding program or take other measures to increase the population of saola. 

Amur Leopard 

The giant cat species around the world are declining in number, but the most critically endangered species of giant cats is the Amur Leopard. With a known wild population of fewer than 100 adults, the giant cat resides primarily in the Amur River basin of eastern Russia, with a few spread across the northern part of China.

Similar to Cross River Gorillas, Amur Leopards also lack genetic variation due to inbreeding, resulting in weaker offspring. Hence, they naturally have a lower population. The problem intensified due to uncontrolled human activities. Eventually, the giant cat species fell prey to illegal poaching and loss of habitat. 

Fortunately, there are more than 150 leopards in captivity. Moreover, they have a longer life span of more than 20 years in captivity, which gives hope to humanity to increase the population of this critically endangered species of leopards. 

Several other animals list critically endangered species, including Javan rhinos, Vaquita, Asian elephants, and snow leopards. Uncontrolled human activities that led to a loss of habitat and poaching remain one of the top reasons these creatures are on the brink of extinction. And while human activities have led to this loss, we still have time to take appropriate measures so some of these rare species can recover shortly. At the end of the day, restoring natural habitats for endangered species is the only way to restore balance on the planet. 

 

10 Most Affordable Gems in the World

Red Gemstones
Image by Peter Lomas from Pixabay

There is a wide variety of gemstones available on the market that can be used in jewelry. Choosing the best stones to include in jewelry pieces can be a little challenging since many factors have to be taken into consideration, such as the price. 

With a myriad of gemstones in the world, some are quite affordable, while others are pretty expensive. This doesn’t mean that low-priced gemstones aren’t desirable.

What Determines the Price of Gemstones?

Hardness

One of the primary factors is its hardness. The higher the ranking on the Mohs hardness scale, the higher the durability of a gem. For instance, with a ranking of 10 on the Mohs scale, diamonds are by far, the hardest mineral that is completely scratch and damage-free. 

Light

Light is another major factor that impacts gemstone’s price. While some don’t fade or change color from exposure to light, others do. It is natural that people prefer stones that offer the same look years later, as they did initially. 

Availability

Here the rule of supply and demand is followed, but not always. Let’s look into this further. The abundance in which gems are available can determine their prices. Certain gemstones that are widely available are considered more affordable than others. However, some rarely-occurring stones also have a pretty high price. 

Today, almost all gems can be synthetically re-created with technology. Many fashion jewelry pieces include man-made stones so that they can offer lower prices to their consumers. However, there are still many people searching for natural and affordable stones for their jewelry. If you’re one of those people, then you’ve come to the right place! 

Here is a list of the most affordable gemstones in the world: 

Amethyst

Purple Amethyst in a ring setting
Purple Amethyst in a ring setting. Photo Pixaby

Amethyst is a beautiful gemstone that belongs to the quartz family. Not only is this gem found in abundance, but it is also incredibly popular.

The ancient Greeks used to wear amethyst as jewelry. Those who believe see this mineral as a tranquilizer to help people who are suffering from stress.

Agate

Just like amethyst, age is a member of the quartz family, belonging to the chalcedony variety. Agate occurs in a myriad of colors, including white, red, gray, pink, black, brown, and yellow. These colors are typically caused by impurities during the formation process. Agate has a hardness rating of 7 on the Mohs scale, making it equally durable as amethyst. 

Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a popular gem that is available in various shapes. The Paraiba variety of tourmalines is especially popular due to its eye-catching colors. Adding tourmaline to your jewelry can give you a stunning look without breaking the bank. With a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale, this gemstone is durable and long-lasting, especially if proper care is taken. The value of a tourmaline typically depends on its sparkle. A well-cut gem brings out a brilliant sparkle, while a poor cut causes the tourmaline to lose its value. 

Turquoise 

The turquoise gemstone
Photo by Sophie Louisnard on Unsplash

Also known as the Feroza stone, Turquoise is a fairly valued and favored gemstone. Being one of the only gems named after a color, this stunning gem is sure to grab people’s eyes.

Not only is turquoise popularly used in jewelry but it is also popular for mystical blessings. Turquoise has a hardness rating on the Mohs quantifier of 5-6, making it comparatively less durable than other stones. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can make your turquoise jewelry last a bit longer. 

Tiger’s Eye 

This metamorphic rock typically has a brownish-pink shade with a glossy appearance, but it is found in various other colors as well. The tiger’s eye has a certain distinct radiance to it. With a silky texture, this stone is often cut in cabochons to be used in jewelry. The tiger’s eye gemstone has a rating of 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means that it is fairly durable to be used in jewelry. 

Citrine

Like amethyst and agate, citrine also belongs to the quartz family. The natural occurrence of this fine mineral is quite rare, which is why amethyst is heated to form the yellow-orange color of citrine. With colors varying from yellow-orange tones to deep red-orange tones, citrine looks fantastic in any setting. Citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and a pretty low per-carat price, making it an affordable choice for jewelry. 

Garnet

Although known for its vivid red color, garnet is found in many other colors as well. They typically have a hardness between 6.5 and 7.5, making it a fairly durable semi-precious stone. While garnets are often great for other jewelry pieces, they aren’t recommended for engagement rings since they scratch easily. 

Onyx 

Like many other gemstones, onyx is a type of chalcedony stone that belongs to the quartz family. it is abundantly found and mined in many countries across the world. The gem is popular because it can be dyed easily. However, most people choose to wear it in its natural state. Onyx has a hardness of 7, which makes it fairly durable. 

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone
Rose Quartz Healing Gemstone

Rose quartz is another very popular gemstone mainly due to its stunning pink color. Also known as the stone of love, rose quartz is found abundantly, and is, therefore, pretty inexpensive. Rose quartz typically features inclusions that appear like white veins. Rose quartz also has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and can be used in various jewelry pieces. 

Wrapping Up

Gemstones have varying prices that are dependent upon a lot of factors. While precious gemstones are extremely expensive, there may be certain semi-precious stones that are pricey, too. However, most semiprecious stones are easily available at affordable prices, making them more accessible for people to use. Choose any one of the most affordable gemstones in the world listed above to include them in your next jewelry piece! 

 

What You Need to Know About August Birthstones

August Birthstones - Pixabay
Image by Klaus Beyer from Pixabay

Welcome to August. Most people would agree it is the hottest month of the year, so keep those air conditioners pumping.

To help you August babies remove the negative energy you will excerpt when you see your energy bill, just know that August birthstones are a symbol of self-esteem, self-confidence, happiness, and love, and passion. Now, doesn’t that make you feel more peaceful?

August-born folks are unique because they don’t have a single birthstone. In fact, they have three, namely peridot, spinel, and sardonyx. Originally, sardonyx was the only birthstone for people born in August with a history of over 4,000 years. Later, peridot was added to the list and it became August’s primary gemstone. In 2016, a third birthstone, spinel, was added to the list. The addition of spinel made August one of the three months of the year represented by three different birthstones.  

Sardonyx 

Sardonyx is considered one of the holiest stones with a long history and you might have seen it appearing in breastplates of higher Church officials and priests. And while we are on the subject of spirituality, Sardonyx is thought to give you self-esteem and motivate you towards achieving your goals. 

Sardonyx is a combination of two types of chalcedony – onyx, and sard and that’s how it gets its name. It can be found in several colors ranging from orange to dark orange, red and black. Its formation is unique as it is formed through the layering of sard and onyx under intense pressure conditions for several thousand years and subsequently, the stone appears with different colored bands that are highly defined and look like a mix of different colors. You can also find sardonyx that is stained with iron oxide dye or nitric acid to enhance its color. 

Sardonyx has a glass-like appearance and has a Mohs hardness that ranges between 6.5 and 7. 

Where is Sardonyx Found?

The finest sardonyx comes from India and has a distinct appearance with contrasting colors. And while the stone is readily found around the world, some of the largest supplies come from Madagascar, Brazil, Germany, and Uruguay. The easy availability of the gemstone is reflected in its inexpensive price. It is commonly used in intaglios, broaches as well as cameos. 

Taking Care of Your Sardonyx 

Red Sardonyx Agate Carved Cowrie Shell
“Red Sardonyx Agate Carved Cowrie Shell 瑪瑙寶螺” by beautifulcataya is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you look at the physical characteristics of sardonyx, it is relatively hard; however, it can easily get scratched without proper care. Hence, when using this gemstone as part of your jewelry, it’s best to keep it clean using a mild soap and brush followed by a quick rinse using clean water. 

If you are not actively using sardonyx and it’s a part of your broach then you need to store it in a box with a fabric lining. Make sure it stays away from direct sunlight also or else the color of the stone can fade. 

Peridot 

Another gemstone with a ‘glass-like’ luster was added to the list of August birthstones. Similar to sardonyx, peridot has a long history dating back to Medieval times. From being a part of precious jewelry to being a talisman with special protective powers, peridot has come a long way. Its spiritual meaning is self-confidence, love, and the ability to stay happy and positive. Today, peridot is considered precious because of its unique beauty and rarity. 

Peridot is a variety of the abundantly available mineral called olivine, which has a chemical composition of magnesium and iron. However, gem-quality peridot is rare because of its chemical instability on the Earth’s surface. 

The iron content in the gemstone gives it a unique green color which ranges from clear pale green to dark emerald green color. Apart from the distinct color, peridot is also known for its glass-like shine that makes it a beautiful addition to your piece of jewelry. The finest quality peridot has a deep green color and exceptional transparency. 

On Mohs’ scale of hardness, peridot averages around 6.5 and 7 which makes it a fairly hard gemstone. 

Where is Peridot Found?

Peridot is widely available in several countries including Norway, Brazil, China, Myanmar and South Africa, and some other countries. 

Taking Care of Your Precious Stone 

Emerald and Peridot Briolette Cluster Earrings
“Green Grapes – Emerald and Peridot Briolette Cluster Earrings” by NATALIA PHOTOS is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When it comes to taking care of your peridot, know that it’s a fairly hard gemstone. However, it is still a softer material if you want to wear it as part of your everyday jewelry. The precious stone can get damaged by some acids or exposure to acid rain. Moreover, cleaning your peridot is also a delicate process that requires special care. If you intend to clean your precious stone at home, clean it with mild soap and a soft brush which is the safest way to go about it. When not in use, don’t forget to store your jewelry with peridot in fabric-lined boxes, or else the stone can be scratched by other metals and stones with greater hardness.  

Spinel 

The most recent addition to the list of August birthstones is spinel that comes in a variety of colors ranging from intense red to vibrant pink, orange, purple, blue, and green. Due to its similarity with rubies, spinel has long been mistakenly considered a ruby. The color of the stone is determined by the concentration of trace minerals including chromium, cobalt, and iron. Given the variety of colors, the stone is available in, it can be a perfect addition to any collection and can be a favorite stone for people with almost all tastes. Spinel symbolizes passion and devotion and is supposed to give you increased energy. 

Unlike the other two August birthstones, spinels are quite hard, registering as 8.0 on Mohs’s scale of hardness.  

Where is Spinel Found?

The precious stone is found in several locations worldwide. Some of the major sources of spinel come from Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Tanzania, Myanmar, and Pakistan. 

Taking Care of Your Precious Stone 

Since spinel registers as 8.0 on Mohs’ scale, it’s relatively easy to take care of it; however, it is still important to handle it with care. Avoid the exposure of spinel to direct sunlight, acid, and hot water. Mild soap and water is always the safest way to clean the stone and keep it in the best condition. 

If spinel is part of your everyday jewelry, it is fairly resistant but when not in use, it’s best to store it separately to avoid scratching from other metals and harder gemstones. 

Sardonyx, peridot, and spinel are the three unique birthstones that are best suited to individuals born in August. Now that you know a lot about the three August birthstones and where they come from, it’s a good time to get inspired by adding one to your gemstone collection or present it to someone special born in August.  

The Hardest Gemstones You Will Ever Find

Sparkling Diamond
Diamond gem with reflection on blue background

You might think that the gemstone in the middle of your ring, earrings, or even your necklace is extremely hard and sturdy. However, some gemstones are harder than others. The chances are that you will find harder stones than the ones on your jewelry items. It is no wonder that over time, your jewelry starts to fade, look rotten, or the color starts to become unappealing.

The diamond is known to be the hardest gemstone, while talc is a soft mineral. The Mohs Hardness Scale is used to determine the hardness of gemstones. What this scale does is that it compares how resistant a mineral is by scratching it with ten different reference minerals of different levels of hardness. 

For instance, if Mineral B has successfully scratched Mineral A, it goes to show that Mineral A is not as strong and hard as Mineral B. A stone is put on the Mohs Hardness Scale as it finds its way up by being compared to the reference minerals. 

The Mohs Hardness Scale – What is it?

Gypse Arignac Mineral
Gypsum Arignac, France

The Mohs Hardness Scale came into existence in 1812 and was made by Friedrich Mohs, a German mineralogist. The bigger mineralogy community started to use the scale by 1820. There were ten different minerals of different levels of hardness on the Mohs scale. 

 

  1. Talc
  2. Gypsum
  3. Calcite
  4. Fluorite
  5. Apatite
  6. Feldspar
  7. Quartz
  8. Topaz
  9. Corundum
  10. Diamond

These minerals were used as reference stones against which the hardness of other stones could be calculated.

Knowing How Hard a Gemstone is – Why is it Important? 

It is important to understand where your gemstone lies on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and this helps jewelers understand the kind of stone that will compliment a certain jewelry piece best. For instance, even today, engagement rings are extremely popular. They are usually worn every single day, which means that they go through some rough conditions. 

If the stone in these engagement rings was not hard, it would rot or break over time. If a gemstone falls below seven on the Mohs Hardness Scale, it is considered to be unworthy of being used for an engagement ring.

Moreover, knowing how hard a gemstone helps you understand how to care for the piece of jewelry and what to keep it away from. For example, a topaz is weaker than a diamond. This means that both of them should not be kept together; otherwise, the diamond may damage the topaz.

Alternative Measures of Hardness

There is another method of measuring gemstone hardness other than the Mohs Scale. This is known as the Vickers Hardness Scale that is used to measure the kind of indent made in a stone by a special diamond. The Vickers Scale can portray a clearer difference in hardness between two gems, while the Mohs Scale is not as linear. 

For instance, according to the Vickers Scale, diamonds are 300 percent harder than corundum. This falls on 9 to 10 on the Mohs Scale. Moreover, it shows that calcite is 25 percent harder than fluorite, falling from 3 to 4 on the Mohs Scale. This goes to show that the Vickers Scale is a lot more accurate, and provides detailed, reliable information.

Is Gemstone Toughness the Same Thing as Gemstone Hardness?

A 2 carat diamond being held up by tweezersThe hardness of a gemstone is determined by how well it can withstand being scratched. On the other hand, the toughness of a gemstone depends on whether it can resist fracture if force and pressure are applied and how well it can resist that fracture. Stones of the same family may have a varying level of toughness based on the inclusions and residual stresses that show up because of heating and cutting processes.

Gemstone durability, also known as wearability, is important to understand. For example, an opal that has a hardness of 6 will be more vulnerable to fine scratches and loss of polish if it is worn as regularly as a ring stone. Quartz has a hardness of six and is known to be one of the most common minerals available on the planet. Since it is a component of dust, even if you wipe the dust off it with a soft material, it is likely to get scratched. Even though initially, the scratches will be minuscule and may only be seen under a microscope, over time, they will build up and become more visible. In contrast, a ruby that has a hardness of nine will continue to be bright for decades since it is a hard gemstone.

To learn more about how durable a gemstone is, it is essential to pay attention to its hardness and toughness. However, you should also focus on its stability. A gemstone’s stability depends on how well it can resist the loss of color over time that is caused by chemicals and how well it can withstand deterioration. 

For instance, weak acids can easily damage pearls, while skin oils and acids can cause turquoise to lose its color and fade into dirty green tones. Similarly, a number of other gems are vulnerable to environmental factors, making them likely to fade over a short period of time. That being said, most of the big gems that you have heard about are considered stable as they do not get destroyed by concentrated acids, nor do they lose their shape or color.

Supposedly Cursed Gems that You Need to Know About

Bunch of gemstones
Image by Emilian Robert Vicol from Pixabay

Some popular jewels have been jaded with stories of death and destruction. Folktales of warlords fighting terrible battles, kings and queens going through tragic ends, Russian princesses jumping off towers, fortunes down the drain careers destroyed, companies going bankrupt, marriages breaking off… all because of some shiny stones that some people associate with a curse.

Even though some gems are linked to curses and misfortune, there are also many fabricated stories that one must beware of. These tales are believed mainly because certain gems have mysterious origins, along with an aspect of glamour that most people buy into.

Tales about cursed gems also work as a lesson. For example, there are loads of stories in which these gems were plucked from the eye of a Hindu idol. That goes to show that if you want your stone to bring good luck, do not steal them in the first place and do not betray anyone to have the gems in your possession.

Below are some supposedly cursed gems that you need to know about:

Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond in a Necklass
Wikipedia GNU Free Documentation License

One of the most famous cursed gems, the Hope Diamond’s tale starts with Jean-Baptiste Tavernier – a French merchant traveler. Tavernier purchased the deep blue stone in 1668 from India. Legend has it that the traveler was torn apart by dogs, leading to his death. However, the truth is that Tavernier lived a long life as he traveled all over the world and purchased a number of jewels.

The Hope Diamond soon became known as the “French Blue” and was sold to King Louis XIV. In 1909, the gem found its way to Pierre Cartier, who was aware that the market for pricey gems was not big.

However, in the past, Cartier had been able to sell expensive precious stones to Washington DC’s socialite and heiress, Evalyn Walsh McLean, so he tried his luck with her again. McLean first refused as she did not like the setting of the gem. However, after Cartier changed the design, she seemed more inclined to buy it. Cartier knew that he had to use the “curse” of the gem as a selling point since his customer had always felt as if traditionally unlucky gems were lucky for her.

But things didn’t go as planned. What started with a false curse began to actually develop in McLean’s real life. She threw many huge parties where she would hide the gem in the house and her guests would have to look for it. Then things started to backfire.

Her first-born son died in a car accident. Her husband left her for another woman, destroying all the family fortune. He then lost his life because of his addiction to alcohol. Moreover, the family business went bankrupt and McLean’s daughter died after overdosing on sleeping pills. The year after, McLean committed suicide and the gem was sold to clear the debts of her mansion. 

The Black Prince’s Ruby

 

Crown with Black Prince’s Ruby on top
Imperial Crown with Black Prince’s Ruby on Top. Wikimedia Public Domain

You’ll find this big, red gem in the center of England’s Imperial State Crown. In fact, you may even have noticed it in numerous coronation photos. However, this stone is actually a red spinel – not a ruby. It is also commonly known as “The Great Imposter” and has been linked to a series of dreadful historical events. 

Before the gem found its way to English rulers, it resided with the Sultan of Granada. Pedro the Cruel found this gem close to the corpse of the Sultan of Granada after he was stabbed to death. Soon after Pedro the Cruel obtained the stone, his reign was taken over by his half-brother, who then gained possession of the gem. However, his half-brother, Edward, soon fell prey to a mysterious disease and lost his life after a few hours. 

Lots of other incidents regarding diseases and death circle the Black Prince’s Ruby. For example, in 1415, when Henry V wore the gem to the Battle of Agincourt, it is said that he almost lost his life. Additionally, Richard III wore it at the Battle of Bosworth, where he was killed. 

The Regent

The Regent Diamond
The Regent Diamon.d
Wikimedia Public Domain

Today, the Louvre Museum holds the Regent Diamond in the Apollo gallery. However, it was originally found in the 1700s in India. Legend has it that a slave stole the gem from a mine and hid it inside a wound in his leg, which was self-inflicted. After collaborating with an English sea captain, the slave planned to get the gem to another country. However, the captain was overcome by greed- he threw the slave in the water and kept the jewel himself, later selling it in the marketplace. However, the slave had laid a curse on the Regent Diamond. 

Thomas Pitt, an English governor in Madras, purchased the pale-blue stone, and in 1717, he sold it to French Regent Philippe II of Orleans. That is how the stone received its name. Once again, the gem was stolen during the French Revolution. However, it managed to be recovered. By the time it was handed to Napoleon 1, who laid the stone in the handle of his sword, it was heavily cursed. Today, you will find a display of Napoleon’s sword at the Louvre where every day people come to admire it.

Do you believe the stories of these cursed gems? It must be kept in mind that not all stories you read on the internet may be accurate, and loads of research has been discovered that has proven that some stories may have been fabricated. Remember to fact-check before believing any story! 

 

Howard Fensterman Minerals