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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! 

 

Best Blue Gemstones Used in Jewelry

Blue Gemstones in a necklass
Image by starbright from Pixabay

Blue, the color of calmness and serenity, is one of the most popular gemstone color choices. Blue-colored gemstones are shiny and classy. This stunning color is said to be associated with stability, knowledge, depth, and power. Blue gemstones, in all their textures, shades, and vividness, can add sophistication to any jewelry piece, including earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and pendants. 

Blue-colored gems are also becoming a popular gem color choice for wedding rings. For instance, the world’s most iconic engagement ring that belonged to Princess Diana entails a large blue sapphire. 

That being said, let’s explore some of the best blue gemstones that are popularly used in jewelry. 

Blue Sapphire

Sapphires are the most popular gem in the realm of blue gemstones. Even though sapphires are available in various colors, blue sapphire is the most preferred and well-known version. As part of the corundum family, the blue shade of a sapphire occurs as a result of the presence of titanium and iron. 

With a rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, sapphires are the second-hardest gemstone, making them highly resistant to scratches and breaking. Moreover, after diamonds, sapphire is probably the second-most sought-after colored gem for wedding rings. Since sapphire is the birthstone for September, sapphire-studded jewelry is a great choice for those born in the month. Additionally, although all sapphires are precious, the blue sapphire with a purplish tone is much pricier and desirable than the one with greenish hues. 

Aquamarine

Belonging to the beryl family, the aquamarine stone is a part of the same family as emeralds and morganite. With its name itself talking about the sea-blue color, aquamarine is one of the most stunning blue stones you can find. Besides diamonds and sapphires, aquamarines are popularly used in engagement rings, among other jewelry styles. Recognized for its distinctive pastel blue color, this beautiful gem evokes calmness. 

Aquamarines occur as big crystals and sparkle quite bright and beautiful when exposed to light. This stone has a vitreous to resinous luster. Also, aquamarines with intense deep blue hues are considered the most prized and expensive variety. 

With a rating of 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale, aquamarine is a pretty hard, sturdy, and durable stone that offers excellent clarity and doesn’t break easily, making it one of the best blue gemstone options for jewelry. 

Blue Diamond

Diamonds are found in a variety of colors. While the colorless variety of diamonds is the most popular type, blue diamonds are amongst one of the rarest and most expensive types of diamonds. Blue diamonds have identical properties to colorless diamonds, with exceptional brilliance and perfect hardness. Even though diamonds are sturdy and scratch-resistant, blue diamonds aren’t the toughest gemstone. You will have to use them with reasonable care to increase their longevity. 

Blue diamonds receive their color from the traces of boron present during the formation of the gemstone. Even though blue diamonds come in a range of shades, the fancy intense blue hue is usually a top choice. Pure blue-colored diamonds are typically considered to be the most beautiful and valuable gems, but blue diamonds with greenish tints are also quite popular. With the highest refractive index in the world, this stunning gem is a brilliant choice for almost any type of jewelry.

Blue Topaz

Blue topaz is another extremely rare blue gemstone. One of the most interesting facts about a topaz gem is that it is typically found in a colorless state. This gem is then put under intense heat treatments to create striking shades of blue. Naturally-occurring blue topaz gems are extremely rare and often occur as large crystals. These stones also show different colors when seen from different angles. 

Blue topaz is budget-friendly, but there are some expensive varieties of the stone as well. The most valuable and exclusive varieties of blue topaz include Swiss Blue, London Blue, and Sierra Blue, all of which are darker variations of the gemstone. Blue topaz is the right choice for various types of jewelry because of its toughness and durability. This gemstone is also a December birthstone.

Turquoise

Turquoise is another unique semi-precious gemstone that is the only gem with a color named after it. This gem usually forms when water seeps through mineral rocks, setting off a chemical reaction. Over a period of time, this reaction builds up and forms a beautiful, unique-looking gemstone. 

The turquoise gemstone is quite popular due to its vivid sky blue and green shades. Generally, opaque in nature, this stone typically includes dark web-like inclusions. However, inclusion-free, pure blue turquoise stones are considered to be the most valuable and desired ones. 

This ancient semiprecious gemstone is significantly soft, which is why it is often cut into cabochons and beads when used to make jewelry. This stone isn’t considered as durable as many other gemstone options, which is why it is mostly preferred in less delicate jewelry pieces. Also, when it comes to turquoise jewelry, you need to ensure that it receives extra care to maintain its luster.

Blue Tourmaline

Blue tourmaline is typically found in two assortments: Indicolite tourmaline and Paraiba tourmaline. While the Pairaba tourmaline gem displays a vivid and radiant blue color, the indicolite gem typically is found in light to dark shades of blue. Generally, blue tourmalines are tremendously rare and are also found in very small sizes, usually under a carat. 

While most blue tourmalines have greenish tones, the pure blue ones are considered more popular and prized. Blue tourmaline has a great hardness rating on the Mohs scale, making it one of the toughest and most durable gemstones. Tourmaline is also the birthstone for October, making tourmaline-studded jewelry a great gift option for those born this month. 

The Bottom Line

A few factors, including color, price, and hardness must be considered in order to determine the best blue gemstones to include in your jewelry piece. With so many unique characteristics, you can easily choose a beautiful gemstone for your jewelry. 

Best Yellow Gemstones for Wedding and Engagement Rings

Yellow gemstone
Image by sara graves from Pixabay

Yellow gems are often an indicator of warmth, openness, and optimism. If you’re looking to try something other than colorless diamonds for your engagement or wedding ring, a yellow gemstone can be a great way to showcase your sunny disposition on your finger. 

Since wedding and engagement rings are everyday jewelry, we have put together a list of the best yellow gemstones that are unique and durable. 

When searching for a gemstone, you need to consider two main factors: 

    • Toughness – Measured by the Mohs hardness scale
    • Clarity – The transparency and inclusions or blemishes of a stone

Now that you know how to evaluate a gemstone, let’s jump in and have a look at the best yellow gemstones for engagement and wedding rings. 

Citrine

Stemming from the French word “citron” which means “lemon,” citrine is a type of quartz stone found in multiple shades, ranging from brownish-yellow to yellow-orange to lemon yellow. Although little odd, reddish-orange citrines are often considered more valuable than bright yellow citrines. 

This gemstone is pretty transparent and is often faceted even more to make it appear more lustrous. With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, the durability of the stone resists scratching. Also, since quartz is found abundantly, it is easy to find citrines at budget-friendly prices. 

Citrines look amazing in white gold or rose gold settings. 

Yellow Diamonds

Diamonds are surely forever. With a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale, colored or not, diamonds are the most durable and scratch-proof stones to exist. Although colorless diamonds are the most popular choice for engagement and wedding rings, if it does not truly capture your personality, a yellow diamond will save the day! 

With traces of nitrogen present during the formation of diamonds that gives them their yellow color, yellow diamonds are very commonly available. Canary yellow is the purest and most intense shade of yellow. However, a majority of yellow diamonds feature hints of other colors. Yellow diamonds with green tints are more popular and expensive, and yellow diamonds with brown tints are less-favored and less pricey. 

Just like colorless diamonds, yellow diamonds look great in every setting. 

Yellow Topaz

Signifying happiness and prosperity, yellow topaz is the birthstone for the month of November. Topaz receives its name from the Sanskrit word tapas, which means “fire.” This stone gets its name due to its fiery appearance. 

Topaz is available in an extensive range of bright and warm colors ranging from orange to dark yellow to a vibrant yellow. The darker variety of topaz is known as the Imperial Topaz. Although this variety is quite rare, which is why it’s valuable, its merry yellow shades are commonly available and are typically inexpensive. 

Topaz gems generally have a high clarity with minimal, almost non-visible inclusions. The brilliance of this stone is enhanced even more when it is faceted. With a hardness ranking of 8 on the Mohs scale, Topaz is a durable and scratch-resistant stone, making it suitable for everyday wear. 

Yellow Tourmaline

Tourmalines are often nicknamed the ‘rainbow gemstone’ since they can be found in almost every color. However, it can be quite challenging to find yellow tourmalines since they are quite rare. Vibrant yellow tourmalines get their color from iron and manganese during their formation. Pure and natural yellow tourmalines are difficult to find, so you can expect many inclusions. However, faceting helps enhance the brilliance of these gems. 

With a ranking of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, this gemstone has considerably good durability only through proper maintenance. Tourmaline is seen as a symbol of strength and healing in many cultures. Yellow tourmalines are specifically believed to heal one’s ego and self-esteem. 

Yellow Sapphire

You probably imagine a big blue stone when you think of sapphires. Sorry to break it to you but not all sapphires are blue! Well, the truth is that sapphires are found in every color except for red. Made of corundum, sapphires turn yellow due to iron impurities during crystal formation. 

Yellow sapphires occur in many shades ranging from pale to vivid. The higher the iron content, the brighter the stone, and the more expensive it will be. Nevertheless, yellow sapphires are generally much less expensive than blue sapphires. Many sellers use heat treatment to improve the yellow coloring of sapphires. 

With a ranking of 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, sapphires are almost as hard as diamonds. They are resilient gems and can withstand breakage and scratches. However, it will require some maintenance to prevent clouding. 

Yellow Zircon

Zircon stems from the Persian word “zargun” that means  “gold-colored”. Zircons are available in various shades ranging from gold brown to vivid yellow. The bright yellow hues of this stone can be produced through heat treatment. When properly faceted, this beautiful stone produces a stunning brilliance that can even give competition to a diamond. 

Although zircons appear very similar to diamonds, the biggest drawback of this stone is that it is soft and brittle. With a hardness of 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, zircons need to be used very carefully to prevent chipping or scratching. 

Yellow gems traditionally symbolize optimism, luck, self-esteem, and other positive energies and behaviors. Although yellow gems are an unconventional choice for engagement and wedding rings, they can be a great way to showcase the confidence and warmth in you. We hope this information on yellow gemstones will help you get started on your search for the perfect wedding or engagement ring!

 

8 Best Red Gemstones

Red Gemstones
Image by Peter Lomas from Pixabay

Blue and green are the most coveted gemstone colors due to their calming nature, but red gems are vibrant and powerful stones that speak of luxury and extravagance. Although red gems look great in all settings, they look even better with yellow gold. It is time to spruce up your jewelry box with a few new red gemstone jewelry pieces that will make you stand out from the crowd. 

Here is a list of some of the best red gemstones.

  • Ruby

Whenever you think of a red gemstone, rubies are probably the first gems that pop into your head. Not only is ruby the most prevalent red gemstone, but it is also one of the most stunning and ravishing ones. With a lush and vibrant color, this exquisite gem is a favorite among many people. Ruby has a hardness score of 9 on the Mohs scale, which makes it durable and robust, especially for jewelry pieces. 

Although this stunning stone is found in various red hues, the mesmerizing “pigeon blood” color of rubies is the most sought-after and expensive variety. However, you should be aware of the fact that most rubies available in the market receive heat treatment for the enhancement of their color. Moreover, synthetic rubies are also widely available, which is why you should always ask for a certificate when purchasing rubies. 

  • Garnet

The January birthstone garnet is most certainly one of the most brilliant red gemstones you can find. Although they aren’t hard as rubies, they are still considered resilient enough to withstand adverse conditions. The most interesting fact about garnets is that it is among the first gemstones to be discovered in the world. 

Generally, these red gems have great clarity since they don’t have any visible inclusions. Also, many people confused these stones with rubies due to their intense red color. Another interesting fact about garnets is that they come in every color of the rainbow and blue garnet is considered the rarest and most expensive variety. 

  • Red Diamond

Red diamonds are the rarest, most unique fancy colored diamond. Made with pure carbon, this diamond is free of all chemical impurities that create other types of stones. Only a handful of mines produce red diamonds, which is why it is one of the rarest and most valuable of all diamonds. In fact, this stunning gemstone is so rare that you can only buy it in an auction. Also, it is extremely challenging to find a red diamond over 1 carat, so if you do come across one that’s bigger than a carat, you’re probably very lucky. 

  • Red Agate

It’s tough not to fall in love with agates. This beautiful and joyful gemstone is among the most versatile crystals in the world. From wind chimes created with delicate slices of the stone to dainty bracelets, there is something about this stone’s energy that is fun and light. Vibrant red agate is no different.

This stunning gem often features grey or white stripes that form a gorgeous effect. It can be rare and difficult to find red agate in a distinct color without the stripes. If you do happen to find an agate, you should definitely ask the seller if it is dyed. Many jewelers dye this gemstone to cover its natural bands and make it more appealing. 

  • Red Coral

The most organic gem of all red gemstones, red corals are absolutely beautiful. They come from a living organism, just as pearls are gained through oysters. Produced by coral polyps, this stone can either be translucent or opaque. It is also considered to have mental, physical, and emotional healing properties, which is why many people wear red coral jewelry. Since corals generally have a low hardness score, usually between 3 and 4 on the Mohs scale, you need to be careful when wearing coral jewelry. 

  • Carnelian

With a glossy luster and a stunning red color, the carnelian is one of the most desired and popular gemstones on the market. With a hardness score of 7 on the Mohs scale, this gem is quite durable. There was a time when carnelians possessed an extremely high value as they were believed to be very rare. However, even though carnelians aren’t that rare in present times, they are still valued for their vintage charm. 

  • Fire Opal

A rare and striking gem, the fire opal originally comes from Mexico, with its colors ranging from light yellow to vivid orange and red. Just like other opals, the gemstone can be quite fragile since it isn’t hard. However, jewelry featuring fire opals can be truly mesmerizing. Fire opals can be used to make some breathtaking jewelry pieces that can last you a long time if they’re well taken care of. 

  • Red Zircon

Out of all red gemstones, red zircons are probably the most underrated gems. Most people confuse zircons, a natural gem, with cubic zirconia, synthetic gems. The fact is that red zircons occur naturally, even though they might be rare. These gemstones are found in vivid colors that can feature purple or orange tints. However, you need to be very careful when wearing your red zircon jewelry since this stone can be a little brittle. Nevertheless, red zircons make a brilliant addition to any jewelry piece. 

The Bottom Line

Jewelers will forever favor red gems for their rich colors and associations with love and passion. The fiery and vibrant appearance of red gemstones makes them an excellent focal point in any piece of jewelry because they add an extra level of depth and beauty. The color red further enhances the glamor and charm of the gemstone and makes a statement, especially if the stone has some special meaning attached to it. 

If you love all things red, this list of the best red gemstones should help you decide on the stone you can add to your jewelry. 

 

 

What is Soapstone

No, you can’t clean your hands with it, but you can use it to make bowls and ornaments. How does that sound? 

Since ancient times, soapstone has been a popular medium for carving. Thousands of years ago, Native Americans used this rock to make smoking pipes and bowls, and ornaments. Prior to that, the Scandinavians started using this soft-rock during the Stone Age and continued to do so throughout the Bronze Age. It was then that humans realized that the stone could be easily carved. They also found out that soapstone can absorb heat and release it slowly, making it perfect for cookware.

Its unique properties and ease of extraction inspired humans to use the material for a variety of uses. In this post, we take a closer look at soapstone, its properties, and its uses. Let’s get started. 

What is Soapstone?

Soapstone
Image by kalhh from Pixabay

Soapstone, in its purest essence, is a metamorphic rock that primarily contains talc. Alongside, it also includes minerals such as carbonates, micas, chlorite, pyroxenes, amphiboles, and several other minerals in trace quantities. Since the stone contains a large amount of talc, it is soft, making it ideal for carving. Moreover, it is typically gray but can also be found in several other colors such as green, blue and brown. The stone got its name from the softness and a texture that closely resembles soap; hence it’s known as soapstone. 

If you are planning to purchase soapstone (for any of its diverse uses), you need to know that miners and drillers use this name for any soft rock that has a soapy or slippery feel. Moreover, craftsmen also refer to other soft stones such as serpentine or alabaster as soapstone. So make sure you know the differences so you can end up with the suitable material. 

The Formation of Soapstone 

As mentioned earlier, soapstone is a metamorphic rock, and it usually forms at the convergent plate boundaries. Since it is the region that is most exposed to heat and pressure, convergent plate boundaries provide the perfect environment where the rock can be metamorphosed into soapstone. The rock is abundantly found in Southeastern Brazil in the state of Minas Gerais. 

Physical Properties 

Soapstones of different colors
Soapstones of different colors. Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

If you look at the composition of the rock, it is almost 100% talc and hence it shares many physical and chemical properties of talc. Given its physical properties, soapstone is suitable for several uses.

 

Some of the physical properties of soapstone include the following.

    • Soft and easy to carve 
    • Nonporous, hence nonabsorbent  
    • Poor heat and electricity conductivity 
    • Resistant to alkalis and acid 
Talc Block
Talc Block Wikimedia CC

While soapstone primarily contains talc, its composition also depends on the parent rock since it is a metamorphosed rock. Moreover, the temperature and pressure conditions of the environment also play a role in how the rock behaves.


Furthermore, the level of metamorphism also plays an integral role in determining the grain size.

Soapstone with fine grains is perfect for detailed carving. Lastly, the presence of other minerals and the level of metamorphism can influence the hardness of the stone. 

Hence, you can expect that the physical properties of the soapstone can vary significantly depending upon the location of extraction that they depend on.

    • The level of metamorphism, 
    • The temperature and pressure conditions, and 
    • Presence of other minerals

Common Uses of Soapstone 

Given its unique physical properties, soapstone has a variety of uses. Again, its use depends on the grain size, hardness, and level of metamorphism as all of this affects the physical properties of the rock.  Some of the common uses of soapstone include the following. 

    • Cooking pots, slabs, and boiling stones, 
    • Electric panels, 
    • Cemetery markers, 
    • Countertops in labs and kitchens, 
    • Sinks,
    • Plates and bowls, 
    • Sculptures and carvings, 
    • Floor tile, and wall tiles, 
    • Metals casting molds, and 
    • Cold stones. 

The uses of soapstone were first identified by mankind during the Stone Age when people carved their first cooking pots with the mineral without using any metal tools. Later, skilled craftsmen carved into the mineral and identified all the other uses. Since then, it is a popular medium for carving for skilled artisans. 

Geological Occurrence 

The rock is abundantly found worldwide, but it is present in considerable quantities in the following regions. Most of the soapstone that you find today comes from China, India, and Brazil. Significant deposits of soapstone can also be found in Canada and Australia and several other European countries, and the United States. As mentioned earlier, soapstone from different countries will have different physical properties and hence different usage. 

Soapstone Around the World 

Brazil 

Several of the world’s largest quarries for soapstone are found in Brazil. Large slabs of soapstone are quarried in the region and are extensively used for sinks, countertops, and carving sculptures. The famous Christ, the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, which is around 98 feet tall, contains many soapstones. 

Asia 

Soapstone is also quite popular in Asia and can be found in several colors. The Asian soapstone is primarily used for carving. Moreover, it is also used for cooking utensils such as bowls, plates, and teapots. Soapstone artifacts have been excavated from the Indus Valley in huge quantities, proving that the rock was extensively used during the Harappan period, which dates from 2600 B.C. to 1900 B.C. 

Europe 

Soapstone was a popular rock in Rome and ancient Greece. Archeologists have found evidence that the Vikings also used soapstone as it reflects heat. 

Final Words 

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that primarily contains talc. However, depending upon the region where it comes from, the level of metamorphism, and the parent rock, it can also contain other minerals as well. Hence, no two samples of soapstone that come from different origins can have the same physical properties. However, soapstone is a soft rock that has several uses.  

Top 7 Green Gemstones

Green Emerald
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

What do you think about when the color green is mentioned?  St. Patrick’s Day and leprechauns are the most popular answers. This green we are going to talk about may intrigue you just as much as St. Patrick’s day, but there is no parade. Instead, you can wear it as jewelry, even if you’re not Irish.

These are the popular green gemstones and their stunning color offers sophistication and elegance, making it hard for other colored gemstones to compete. 

Since the color green is associated with nature, green-colored stones symbolize life, renewal, freshness, and energy. It also has a peaceful and soothing feel, which further amplifies people’s likeness towards these colored gems.  

Emeralds are probably the first gems that pop into your head. However, there are over 100 types of green gemstones used in various types of jewelry. 

Here is a list of the top green gemstones that look stunning. 

  • Emeralds

An emerald gemstone in organic conditionEmeralds are the most popular green gemstone of all time. As a member of the illustrious beryl family, this gemstone has a graceful appeal to it. Emeralds have been in use since antiquity. In fact, Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen, was well-recognized for wearing them. 

The most crucial factor to consider when buying an emerald is the color of the stone. Let’s face it: an emerald is nothing if it is not green. The more vivid and intense the color, the more expensive the stone. Almost all emeralds contain inclusions and eye-clean emeralds are extremely rare, so the lesser the inclusion, the more valuable the stone. 

With a 7.5 to 8 rating on the Mohs scale, emeralds are considered fairly durable. However, if an emerald contains too many inclusions, the stone can weaken and chip more easily. Emeralds are commonly treated in order to enhance their color and stability to raise their value. Therefore, it is important to choose a reliable vendor when purchasing this expensive gem. 

  • Green Diamonds

When you think of diamonds, you probably instantly imagine a beautiful, colorless stone. However, even though the transparent variety is more popular, diamonds are found in an extensive range of colors, including green. Green diamonds are extremely rare, so they are also quite expensive, but not as much as red or pink diamonds. They may range in shades from faint to deep green and sometimes even feature secondary tones, such as brown, blue, or yellow. 

Although most colored diamonds get their color from certain trace elements, green diamonds are quite unique in this aspect. These beautiful stones get their coloring from natural radiation that occurs over a period of hundreds of years. While radiation is generally dangerous, green diamonds are quite safe to wear. 

  • Green Sapphires

Sapphires are commonly associated with the color blue, which is why green sapphires weren’t considered desirable. However, with rapidly changing tastes and perceptions of gemstones, green sapphires are now becoming increasingly popular. This stunning stone occurs quite rarely and gets its color mainly from the presence of iron. 

With its shades varying from dark to faint green, with slight hints of yellow or blue, green sapphires are found in a stunning range of hues. Like all other sapphires, green sapphires also have a score of 9 on the Mohs scale, making them one of the most durable gemstones of all time. The high durability of the stone, combined with its brilliance, makes it a fantastic choice for all types of rings. 

  • Jade

Jade in ChinaJade is nearly a synonym for the word ‘green.’ It is one of the few stones that is actually named after a color and is one of the top green gemstones of all time. This beautiful mineral can be traced back to over 7,000 years ago. It has been used since ancient times, especially in China. 

This stone has two main types: jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is the more valuable variety due to its higher quality, while nephrite is found in higher quantities and is comparatively less expensive. Although jade is a fairly soft stone with a rating of 6 on the Mohs scale, this stone can withstand a lot of adversity due to its compact composition. Faceting jade isn’t a very popular practice, but it sure can give the gem an added brilliance.

  • Green Agate

Agate occurs in a variety of colors, but green is one of the more popular and rare varieties. It is typically found with many inclusions and is typically smooth with a vitreous luster. Green agates are generally translucent to opaque. 

This gemstone is usually cut in cabochons, and sometimes it is faceted for enhanced depth and light reflection. With a Mohs scale rating of 7, agates have pretty good durability and are suitable for all jewelry. Although this gem is generally affordable, the quality of the setting and the workmanship involved in the jewelry piece can hike up its overall price. 

  • Demantoid Garnet

Demantoids are a part of the andradite variety, belonging to the garnet family. The most expensive variety of garnets, the occurrence of demantoids is quite rare. Since most demantoid gems occur in sizes under 2 carats, finding a large stone is pretty difficult.

This gem occurs in colors ranging from faint to vivid. Some stones also feature secondary hints of brown or yellow, making them less desirable. The most valuable kind of demantoids is the green ones that come from Russia. Certain demantoids also feature extremely rare horsetail-shaped inclusions that aren’t found in other gems. These inclusions add quite a bit of value to the gem, making this gemstone one of the few stones that increase in value due to its impurities. 

  • Amazonite

Amazonite gets its name from the Amazon Rainforest despite the fact that there aren’t any amazonite deposits in the area. Occurring in shades of light green to a blue-green color, the deep, leaf-green color is the most highly desired variety of the stone. 

This beautiful gem features white lines and streaks that form random patterns and add character and depth to the stone. Amazonite is found in abundant quantities, which is why it is easily available and isn’t highly priced. Also, this gem usually isn’t enhanced or treated in any way. 

The jewelry world has many beautiful green gemstones to offer. Some other green gemstones that didn’t make the above list include green tourmaline, aventurine, malachite, green topaz, green zircon, green fluorite, green pearl, and green apatite. 

So if you go to the next St. Patrick’s day parade, wear a large green gemstone necklace. Since it is early July, you have 10 months to save up for it