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What are Bridge Bearings?

The Coefficients of Steel and Concrete

A concrete column
Concrete column supporting the highway above. Photo by SS

In our previous articles, we discussed the mineral components of steel and concrete. In this article, we will dwell further into the element’s composition and how they are affected when there are changes in temperature. 

All elements on our planet change in size when the temperature increases or decreases; although very minimally, but when dealing with the engineering of buildings and bridges, this change, however slight, could become catastrophic if not properly addressed and compensated for.

Such is the case for iron, steel, and concrete. They expand and compress as the temperatures increase and decrease, respectively. A good way to remember which direction they are moving is: increase = expansion and decrease = compression.

Each element has a specific temperature coefficient. Even if it is just a tiny amount, if there is not enough room for the material to ‘stretch’ (expand) or decrease (compress), it will show signs of wear, and after a time, it could break and everything above it will collapse. In this table, we can see how much materials expand or contract per degree.

For the mathematically inclined:

If 1 mile = 5280 feet, then 1 mile equates to (12 5280’) = 63360”.
1 inch of steel expands 0.00000645” for every 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature; therefore, 63360” 0.00000645” = 0.408672 inches per degree.

Thus, as the weather gets warmer, steel will expand 0.408672 inches for every one degree in temperature.

Material Expansion and Compression MUST be Compensated for in Construction!

In this Pipes and Tubes Temperature Expansion table, you can see the minimal effect of stresses that are placed on certain metals; however, if not compensated for, the integrity of the elements will be compromised.

The question then is, what happens to bridges that have steel columns? If they expand and compress without freedom of movement from temperature differentials, the steel will eventually crack and can lead to a defective bridge.

Enter Bridge Bearings

The answer is bridge bearings (previously called rollers) that allow for the stresses of the steel to move in either direction.

In the photo below, a cylindrical bearing is placed between the vertical supports, called piers, that would otherwise be permanently fastened to each other. The bearings in between them allows for the bridge to expand and compress freely.

A bridge bearing
Photo by SS

In summary, the function of a bridge bearing is to transmit and distribute superstructure loads to the substructure (bridge) and permit the superstructure to undergo the necessary movements of stress, which can consist of compression, shear, and rotation, consequently preventing overstress, which would otherwise compromise the structural integrity of the bridge. 

Bridge Bearing Types

There are several types of bridge bearings utilized and are dependent upon a number of different factors, including the length of the bridge span. The oldest bridge bearing involves just two plates resting on top of each other. 

Here is a good illustration of bridge-bearing plates. It depicts quite well how the plates are stacked on top of each other, as well as the limitations placed on it, such as the guide block, which prevents the plates from sliding off. This plate scheme can be seen on many bridges, especially those that span highways and parkways.

A common form of a modern bridge bearing is the elastomeric bridge bearing, which is more common today. Besides freedom of material stress, they also extend the life of the bridges by reducing continuous wear and tear on the bridge materials. 

The Bay Bridge collapse after the 1989 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake is a perfect example when using inadequate bearings for a structure, especially within an earthquake zone. The use of elastomeric bridge bearing should help to alleviate the engineering errors that caused this part of the road to collapse.

As you travel, you might want to locate the bearings on the bridges you drive on, and now, have a better idea of what those things are that are attached to your bridge.


Everything You Need to Know About Amber

Amber Crystal If you’re looking for a gemstone that truly showcases the uniqueness of nature, an amber gem is a perfect choice for you. With a history of tens of thousands of years, amber is one of the oldest minerals that have been used for jewelry. Popular for its golden hues and simplicity, this gemstone is a must-have for collectors.

That said, let us walk you through a complete guide to amber.

What is Amber?

Amber is actually tree resin that has been fossilized. Resin is a fluid that flows from certain trees, primarily conifers like pine trees. This resin often contains insects that have been fossilized in it with time. The reality is that most of the inclusions in amber are actually ants, mosquitoes, and other living organisms, some of which are long gone. As a result, scientists use amber to learn more about ancient living organisms.

Amber may be burned since it is such a soft stone, and it also emits a pine-scented perfume. Additionally, when heated under the right conditions, this gemstone can potentially produce oil.

Amber, unlike most other gemstones, has a wide range of applications. It’s been used to create tobacco pipes and remove lint from clothes (owing to its abrasive properties). It’s also used to produce perfume and in traditional medicine. Even today, in the Western world, amber necklaces and bracelets are popular among mothers who feel it is a natural pain reliever for their children (there is no scientific evidence to prove this, though).

How to Evaluate Amber Gemstone

Like all other gemstones, amber is also evaluated on the basis of the 4Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carats.


Amber is available in many colors. The most popular and widely recognized shades are yellow and cognac. However, you can also find this gem in black, green, white, and butterscotch.

Yellow amber is, of course, the most popular variety due to the rarity of the other colors. The yellow hues of amber can range from orange to brown, depending on the bubbles in it.

Green amber is one of the rarest varieties that are extremely rare and valuable. Also known as cherry ambers, red ambers are a slightly rusty color and can be found in golden red to dark brown shades. Black amber is a very dark brown or red color that is formed due to the mixture of tree resin with soil or other dark inclusions.


Unlike most other gemstones, the beauty of the amber gem lies in its imperfections, especially the inclusions it features within. This gemstone is almost always found with inclusions. However, interestingly, although eye-clean amber is valuable, amber featuring interesting inclusion patterns is typically more expensive.


Amber is most cut into cabochons, with oval and round shapes being the top choice. However, this gem is also available in many other cuts, including hexagon, pentagon, hearts, triangles, and stars. Amber is pretty easy to cut due to its softness, but many jewelers choose to heat the stone to shape it instead of cutting the gem. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t change the gem’s natural properties.

Carat Weight

Amber is an extremely lightweight stone that can even float on saltwater. Even the larger size ambers are very light to hold. So, even if you buy a big amber, it will weigh less than a diamond or emerald of the same size.

Amber Jewelry

Amber is used in many jewelry pieces, including rings, necklaces, brooches, bracelets, earrings, pendants, and cufflinks. Amber’s inclusions can be eye-catching, and it’s generally beautiful from a scientific and historical standpoint.

There are two main perceptions when it comes to metals to mount amber in. Some people prefer silver-colored metals, such as white gold, as settings for their amber gemstone. The main reason behind this is the wonderful contrast of the warmness of amber and the cool tones of silver metal. Either way, silver-colored metals are believed to accentuate the charm of an amber gemstone.

On the other hand, some people choose to utilize yellow gold or rose gold settings for their amber jewelry. While these metals don’t provide as much contrast as silver, they tend to soften the color of the amber and blend well into the stone. The bottom line is that there isn’t any right or wrong choice; it’s all a matter of what you prefer.

Enhanced Amber

One very important factor you need to know about amber is that jewelers often enhance it. Almost every gemstone undergoes various treatments to help enhance its color, clarity or to improve its durability.

Here are a few ways in which an amber gemstone may be enhanced:

To Improve Clarity

Amber gemstones that seem cloudy due to the prominent appearance of tiny bubbles aren’t quite as valuable as other varieties. Therefore, jewelry makes efforts to improve the stone’s clarity by boiling it in rapeseed or linseed oil. An amber stone is slowly heated up in this oil to a boiling point, filling up the tiny bubbles with oil, which removes traces of any bubbly inclusions.

To Improve Color

Since red and green ambers are extremely rare and expensive varieties, some jewelers attempt to change the more commonly found yellow-amber color. For this purpose, they apply a black paste to the gemstone’s surface, then heat the gem to improve its clarity while allowing it to bond with the paste. Some jewelry makers also modify an amber gemstone through dyeing and other heat treatments to change or enhance their color to imitate the color of the more expensive varieties.

Where Can You Buy Amber?

Amber is a pretty popular gemstone with relatively high demand, so it should be very easy to find amber jewelry at your local jewelry store. However, if you’re looking for more options, you can always explore the web to find amber jewelry that suits your taste.

The bottom line is that although soft, amber is a beautiful-looking gem with a stunning color that requires considerable care and attention. We hope that this guide to amber helps you make the right choice when it comes to buying amber jewelry.


The Best and Worst Gemstones for Daily Wear

Engagement ring with blue crystal in center
Photo by axecop from Pexels

Love is in the eye of the beholder and so it is with gemstones. There is no “one size fits all” and with so many gemstones out there, you’re probably wondering what your preference would be as the best stone would be for your daily wear.

Well, same as our individual tastes differ, so do gems, as they are unique in their own way, but they aren’t all created equal. Some minerals, although jaw-droppingly mesmerizing, are more fragile than others, and hence, require additional care. Jewelry featuring such gems is excellent for certain occasions, but it can be pretty risky for daily wear items, such as engagement rings.

Additionally, they all follow the 4Cs standards which must be included in the mix as far as what you would like to wear and/or show, and their associated costs.

So, here we go with our list of the best and worst gemstones for daily wear. 

Gem Hardness is a Primary Consideration

If you’re rough with your jewelry and don’t pay enough attention to their wellbeing, you should consider avoiding these stones, especially rings that contain the following minerals.


With a 2 to 2.5 rating on the Mohs scale of hardness, this organic material is pretty soft in comparison to its counterparts. Ambers feature stunning colors and are wonderful representatives of nature’s beauty. However, due to their low hardness, these gems are, unfortunately, non-durable and more prone to scratching. 


Woman wearing pearlsWith a hardness rating of 2.5 to 4.5, pearls are other incredibly vulnerable gems that are prone to damage. Not only do they scratch easily, but they also require a considerable amount of care to maintain their luster.

Those who own pearl jewelry have to constantly wipe their jewelry after every use to get rid of the dirt and oils on the surface of the stone. Although pearl engagement rings look elegant and romantic, it can be a huge hassle to help the stone maintain its integrity. Some of the most common damages you’ll notice on a pearl ring include dull spots, chipping, or loss of the pearl due to a loose setting. 


Amethyst is a stunning gemstone that is widely recognized for its brilliant purple color. Those looking for a cheaper alternative to a purple sapphire ring often lead towards amethyst. Unfortunately, the bad news is that despite their beauty, these beauties have a significantly low hardness level. With a rating of 7, amethyst gems have the same hardness as dust. 

As a result of their poor hardness, amethysts are highly prone to scratching and wear quite poorly over time until their luster completely wears off. So, if you’re looking for a purple gemstone engagement ring, a better option would be to bump up your budget and opt for a purple sapphire. 


Opal Necklass
Opal sterling silver bracelet hand made in Belize. Photo: SS

Opal is a silica-based stone that rates only 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale. This gem comes in various forms based on the location of its source. Since some opals react oddly to water and heat changes, they are deemed unsuitable for wearers who keep their rings on while cooking or washing their hands. 

Although gorgeous with a shimmery glow, the soft nature of opals makes them highly unreliable when it comes to daily wear. So, you must proceed with extreme caution as there’s a chance that your stone may even crack while wearing.


As one of the most popular peachy-pink minerals, morganites symbolize love and innocence. While this may make them seem like the ideal pick for engagement rings, they might not be the best choice. Since morganites have a very light color and low sparkle levels, they show dirt and oil almost immediately. Even those who take significant care of their ring face this problem. So the best choice is to opt for pink spinel, pink sapphire, or pink topaz instead. 

Gems for Everyday Wear

Ruby Necklass
Ruby Necklass. Photo:

If you’re in search of the best gems that you can wear every day without fretting about them, we have some great options for you. 


Tourmaline is a truly wonderful gemstone that you should have as part of your jewelry pieces. This beautiful crystal comes in various colors, including blue, black, green, and pink. With a rating of 7 to 7.5, it is considered pretty durable compared to many other gemstone counterparts. Moreover, this gemstone was largely popular amongst royalty during the 1800s, making it a fantastic choice for engagement rings. 


Aquamarine stone on a ring
Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

Known for its cooling watery blue color, aquamarine belongs to the same family as emeralds (both gems are variations of the beryl mineral). However, unlike emeralds, aquamarines don’t feature multiple includes. 

With a rating of 7.5 to 8 on the MOHS hardness scale, this gemstone is a pretty good choice for those searching for a durable gem that represents calmness and tranquility. Available in light, medium, and darker blue tones, this good-looking rock is truly a treat for the eyes. 

Rubies and Sapphires

Not many people are aware of this, but sapphires and rubies are just different colors of the same mineral. With a rating of 9 on the MOHS scale, they are one of the most precious and durable gems in the world. 

Sapphires come in rich colors, while rubies are typically known for their vivid red color that is incredibly mesmerizing. Although both these stones have some type of inclusions, it’s best to seek eye-clean gems. Also, remember to choose gems with rich medium tones that aren’t too light or too dark. All in all, their vivid colors, incredible luster, and superior hardness make them a fantastic choice for everyday jewelry, especially engagement rings. 


Sparkling Diamond
Diamond gem with reflection on blue background

You can’t ever miss out on diamonds when making a list of the most durable minerals. After all, with a rating of 10 on the MOHS scale, diamonds are the hardest of the gemstones. Moreover, as the most precious and popular stone in the world, diamonds are also pretty expensive. With their amazing brilliance and resistance to chipping, scratching, and wear and tear, diamonds truly are worth the investment. 


Known for their luscious and mystical green color, emeralds have a rating of 7.5, making them a durable choice. Although emeralds have extensive visible inclusions, they are still very beautiful. So, if you’re looking for a beautiful green stone for your engagement ring, then emeralds are your best bet. However, you must remember to care for them to avoid chipping. 


We hope that our lists of the best and worst gemstones for daily wear help you find the perfect gemstone that suits your lifestyle! 


A Complete Guide to Peridot

Peridot Mineral in square form
Wikimedia Public Domain

The unique green beach of Papakolea rests on the land of volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii. This beach has a rather interesting past as it sparkles with stunning gem sand made of tiny particles of a mineral called peridot. 

As a gem variety of the olivine family, peridot is a popular yellow-green gemstone because it’s always born in fire. It is formed deep inside the earth due to the tremendous pressure and heat that exists below the earth’s surface. 

The story of Peridot extends all the way back to the formation of our solar system, which means that this gem existed even before the existence of the earth itself. Intriguing, isn’t it? 

Well, if you’re mesmerized by this beautiful, fresh-looking lime green gem and are looking to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place. 

This guide covers almost everything you need to know about peridot gems and jewelry.  

Tips for Buying Peridot Jewelry

Like other gemstones, peridots are also evaluated based on 4C’s (cut, clarity, color, and carats). Here are some tips to help you get your hands on the best peridot jewelry. 

Consider the Quality of the Cut

The cut of a gemstone enhances its visible feature even more and also brings out its hidden beauty. A high-quality peridot cut will also make your stone sparkle evenly throughout with no dull, lifeless, or washed-out areas. If you’re searching for a peridot gem, it is essential that you opt for a well-cut, brilliant stone. When cut to a high standard, this gemstone looks impeccable. Since there isn’t any ‘best’ shape for this gem, you should opt for the shape you like most. 

Consider the Clarity

Like all other gemstones, peridots also generally feature inclusions. Since you can find a perfect gem that is free of all inclusions, it is in your best interest to search for a gem that is eye-clean, which means that its blemishes and inclusions shouldn’t be visible to the naked eye. 

Consider the Color

Most gemstones are recognized for their unique color. Peridots are also often known for their lime green color, but some peridots can have different tints and hues. The most desirable peridot is the one with a beautiful and pure lime green color and is free of any brown or yellow hints. It’s best to avoid brownish peridot gems since they are typically considered low quality and are very less appealing. 

Choose the Metals Wisely

If you’re buying peridot jewelry, you’ll want to ensure that you choose a metal that brings out the best in your gem. Generally, yellow gold helps highlight the stunning features of peridot over other white metals. Rose gold also brings out the color of a peridot gem, making it a unique choice for rings and other jewelry. Also, white gold and other rhodium-coated metals often cause pits in peridot gems.

How to Determine if a Peridot is Real

As with other gems, peridot can also be occasionally faked. A fake or imitated peridot is typically made from glass, making it easier to determine its imperfections and set it apart from real ones. 

Here are a few ways you can use to authenticate peridot. 

Perform an Eye Test

One of the best ways to detect whether peridot is fake or real is to have a close look at its color. Genuine peridots have a pure green color with brown or yellow tints. If you notice any other tints besides these two colors, the chances are that your gem is an imitation. 

Check for Imperfections

According to the Mohs scale, peridots have a 6.5-7 hardness rating, which means that it is possible to scratch this gem easily. Take a good look at the gem to look for any scratches or cracks. If the stone looks too perfect, it’s probably unreal. 

Check for Double Refraction

Peridots have a high level of double refraction, which means that you can see two of each pavilion’s facets when examining the gemstone closely. To check for double refraction, hold up the gem against a light. 

Look for Inclusions

Natural peridots almost always have some type of inclusions. While some inclusions are visible to the naked eye, others can be spotted under magnification. However, if you don’t see any inclusions but notice bubbles instead, then there are chances that the peridot is fake.

Check Its Color Under Different Lhigting

Peridots are unique gemstones that don’t change color under light. Genuine peridots will remain the same color despite being exposed to natural or artificial light. Fake peridot, however, will display a different color. 

Caring for Peridot

Peridot ranks only 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, deeming it softer than many other gems. Due to its low hardness, this gemstone requires a considerable amount of proper care and maintenance. 

Firstly, it is recommended to store your peridot jewelry in a separate box or pouch when traveling to keep the gemstone and the metal from scratching each other. 

Secondly, the peridot is incredibly vulnerable and sensitive to rapid temperature changes. So, you must never have it steam cleaned. 

Lastly, like all other gemstones, it is recommended to avoid wearing peridot jewelry when applying cream or lotions. When it comes to cleaning the gem, it is best to use mild dish wash soap and a soft brush to get rid of accumulated dust.

Why We Love This Gem

Peridot has long been associated with sunlight. A major reason behind this is the way this beauty shines green-gold under the sun. In fact, many Egyptians would refer to peridot as the “gem of the sun.” The yellow-green color of peridot is especially unique and looks amazing when paired with yellow gold. Simply put, peridot is like the last squeeze of lime in a cocktail that brings and binds everything together. 

To conclude, peridot is a great gemstone that requires you to be mindful before making any purchase decisions. 


An Insight into Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz – Overview 

Smoky Quartz
Image by 7924748 from Pixabay

You may be aware of the white, yellowish, rose, and purple amethyst varieties of quartz. But did you know that there is brownish-grey crystalline quartz which is known as smoky quartz?

Smoky quartz is a colored variety of quartz crystal that ranges from yellowish-brown to greyish-brown colors. Some of the specimens may appear so dark that they look black. 

Similar to other quartz crystals, smoky quartz is a silicon dioxide crystal, but it gets its color from the additional silicone that’s formed by the dioxide (a dioxide is the result of two atoms of oxygen in its molecule) due to the natural radiation process taking place from the surrounding rocks underneath the Earth’s surface. 

Smoky quartz is an abundant gem material found in several locations around the world, and hence, it is a relatively inexpensive gemstone. You can find large amounts of these crystals with excellent transparency due to very few inclusions. Moreover, another reason for its relatively low price is the color which does not have a high demand. The greyish brown specimens are considered less desirable; however, when the stone is cut, quartz crystals with a reddish-brown or orange hue are the usually preferred gemstones. 

Where is it Found?

Smoky quartz is an abundantly found gem material that you can find in several parts of the world, but if you look at the geological occurrence of the stone, it is mainly found in quartz veins and extreme igneous rocks that are formed during the later stages of magma’s crystallization. Because of this extremity, you can find the formation of exceptionally large crystals.  

With that said, smoky quartz is the national gem of Scotland. There, it goes by the name “cairngorm” after the Cairngorm Mountains, located in Scotland’s eastern Highlands. Also, this mineral has been found near Pike’s Peak, Colorado.

You can also find smoky quartz that is formed at lower temperatures in the fractures of metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. The radioactive mineral found in the surrounding rocks plays an integral role in how the gemstone gets its color. The irradiation leads to the very dark shades of smoky quartz; hence, the darker specimens of smoky quartz come from locations with higher radioactive mineral content. 

Currently, the smoky quartz crystal comes from several sources around the world. Brazil is considered the largest supplier of gemstone material that is used in jewelry making. Another major supplier of smoky quartz is Madagascar which it produces in commercial quantities. 

Smoky quartz can also be found at several other locations, including Switzerland, Scotland, Russia, and Ukraine. You can also find it in some parts of the U.S., including Colorado, North Carolina, and Maine. It is the national gemstone of Scotland where it is known as “cairngorm.” Additionally, the darker variety of this mineral is known as “morion” in Scotland. 

Physical Properties of Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz pear shaped
Smoky Quartz pear shaped. Wipimedia, photo: Doronenko

This mineral has very similar physical properties as other color variants of quartz crystals. Like its cousins, the chemical classification is silicate, and it ranges from yellowish-brown to orange-brown and greyish brown in color. With a vitreous luster, the crystal has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs’ scale of hardness and a specific gravity ranging between 2.6 and 2.7.  

The color is heat sensitive, and the crystal is likely to change its color when exposed to temperatures between 200 and 300 oC. Moreover, prolonged exposure to UV light can result in a loss of color. However, the color can be relapsed by irradiation of the crystals. 

The Uses of Smoky Quartz

Perhaps the most common use of this particular type of quartz is the gemstone industry. The minerals are refined and cut as gems and are then used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of rings, earrings, necklaces, and brooches. Given that smoky quartz can range from yellowish-brown to orange-brown and a less desirable greyish brown, it can cater to the demands of various individuals. 

The gemstone is used in jewelry making for women and can also be used by men to enhance the appeal of their rings and cufflinks. While the trend is not quite common today, the use of smoky quartz to enhance the appeal of men’s jewelry was quite common during the Victorian Era, where the dark brownstones extracted from the Mourne Mountains of Ireland were often used in jewelry, especially mourning jewelry.

During the early days of the 12th century, the gemstone was used in several parts of the world, including China, to make eyeglasses. These glasses were also used as a shield against UV sunlight and other sources of bright light. Some of the glasses and shields were worn during court proceedings as the darker-toned material was used to hide the facial expressions of the judges.

Apart from jewelry and glasses, smoky quartz is also used as a carving material. Since the gemstone has a relatively lower price and one can easily find large pieces of smoky quartz, it is one of the best choices of gem material that can be used for carving.


As mentioned earlier, the color of these quartz crystals can range from yellowish-brown to orange-brown and even darker shades of greyish brown. However, the gem material may lose its color when exposed to UV light and higher temperatures. 

The color of the smoky quartz may be changed in a lab setting by exposure to higher temperatures. It is a particularly common treatment for dark-colored smokey quartz crystals. However, the stone is seldom treated to revert its color once it loses its darker shade. In addition, it is not synthetically produced in the lab because the mineral is readily available and has a relatively lower demand and price. 

Final Words 

Smoky quartz is a color variant of the quartz family that shares similar physical properties. However, it has a unique color range that makes it appropriate for use as a gemstone. Moreover, its physical properties, such as hardness and specific gravity, make it suitable for carving. 


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!


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 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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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.