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It's fun to know your birthstone and useful information when you want to make a gift to someone very special. Some stones are more precious than others, but most are affordable and can easily be mixed with pearls. January – Garnet
Red (pyrope) owes its blood red colour to the iron and chromium content. Pyrope comes from the Greek word Pyropos meaning fiery. Lighter colours are found in Switzerland and South Africa. Also found in Arizona in USA, Argentina Australia, Brazil, Burma, Scotland and Tanzania. February - Amethyst
Purple, lilac and mauve, the colour of amethyst varies depending upon the source. For instance, Russian amethyst has a reddish tone and that from Canada is violet in tone. Largest deposits are in Brazil. Other localities include Sri Lanka, India, Uruguay, Madagascar, USA, Germany, Australia, Namibia and Zambia. Very popular in the 19th Century, it was worn to guard against drunkenness and to instil a sober and serious mind. March – Aquamarine
The most valued colours today are sky-blue and dark-blue. In the 19th Century the most popular colour was sea-green. The name actually means sea-water. The best of the gem quality aquamarine is found in Brazil. Other sources include The Urals in Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria. A dark-blue variety is found in Madagascar. April – Diamond
The hardest mineral on earth and the most highly prized of all gems. Colourless diamonds are the most popular, but they range from yellow through brown, pink, green, blue, red, grey and black. They are graded by the four C’s: colour, cut, clarity and carat. Australia are the main producers today and other localities include Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zaire, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, India, Brazil, Russia and USA. May – Emerald
Its beautiful green colour is due to the presence of chromium and vanadium. The finest emeralds are found in Colombia. Other sources are Austria, India, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, USA, Norway, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Most emeralds used in historic jewellery would have been from Cleopatra’s mines in Egypt, which now yield only poor quality stones. June – Pearl
Formed in shellfish, especially oysters and muscles, as a natural defence against an irritant such as a piece of grit. Layers of Nacre are formed around the irritant and gradually build up into the solid pearl. The iridescent lustre known as the orient of pearl comes from the reflection of light on these layers of Nacre. In cultured pearls an irritant is introduced to initiate the formation of a pearl. The colour of pearls jewelry varies depending upon the type of mollusc and the water in which it lives. Pearls were once thought to be the tears of the Gods. July – Ruby
Ruby is one of the best gems for jewellery settings, especially if you can see the fire in the centre. Rubies are found in many shades of red, from pinkish to purplish or brownish, depending upon the chromium and iron content of the stone. The finest stones come from Burma. The main source is Thailand, where they are brownish-red. Bright red stones are produced in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Vietnam. Also found in India, North Carolina in USA, Russia, Australia and Norway. August – Peridot
This olive or bottle-green gem owes its colour to the presence of iron. It has a distinctly oily lustre. The Crusaders brought Peridot to Europe in the Middle Ages from St John’s Island in the Red Sea, where it had been mined for 3,500 years. Good quality Peridot is very rare. September – Sapphire
Popularly recognised as a blue stone, sapphire can come in many shades depending upon the iron and titanium content. The most valuable, however, is clear deep blue. Good quality stones are found in Burma, Sri Lanka and India. The best Indian sapphire is cornflower blue and is found in Kashmir. Dark blue stones, sometimes almost black, are found in Thailand, Australia and Nigeria. An attractive metallic blue is found in Montana in USA. Sapphires are also found in Cambodia, Brazil, Kenya, Malawi and Colombia. They are believed to convey peace and amiability upon the wearer, suppressing wicked and impure thoughts. October – Opal
Opal ranges from milky opaque quality to colourful iridescence with red, blue and green flashes, to a black background known as Black Opal. It is also known as Fire Opal when it appears in rich orange tones. Opal is formed in stalagmites or stalactites. Australia has been the main producer since the 19th Century. Other sources are The Czech Republic, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and USA. November – Topaz Topaz, usually thought of as blue, actually occurs in other colours; from clear to deep golden yellow, pink and green. Natural pink stones are very rare, usually found in Brazil, Pakistan and Russia. Also found in USA, Sri Lanka, Burma, Australia, Tasmania, Mexico, Japan and throughout Africa. The name Topaz is thought to derive from the Sanskrit word Tapas; meaning fire. December – Turquoise
The colour intensity of turquoise jewelry depends upon the iron and copper content. Sky-blue turquoise from Iran is generally considered most desirable and it has been mined there for 3,000 years, but in Tibet a greener variety is preferred. Also found in Mexico, USA, Russia, Chile, Australia, Turkistan and Cornwall in England. Turquoise has been thought to warn the wearer of danger or illness by a change of colour.