Precious, rare, and valuable

“Diamond of the first water”; “gem of a person”; “pearls of wisdom”... In languages all over the world, gems are used as metaphors for what is unique, precious, and rare.

A gemstone is a crystalline mineral that, when cut and polished, is used as embellishments to adorn jewellery and ornaments. Certain rocks, such as opal and lapis lazuli, and non-mineral organic materials, like pearls, amber, and coral, used in jewellery are also considered gemstones. Gems are broadly categorised as precious and semi-precious. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are considered precious gemstones and, with amethyst, make up the five cardinal gems of antiquity.

Gemstones are also classified by their “water”, which refers to their transparency and brilliance. Gems are graded according to colour, clarity, cut, chemical composition, refractive index, dispersion, hardness, and lustre. Any material or flaws within the gemstone are called inclusions.

A rainbow of treasures

Every gem comes in different colours or at least in variations of the same colour.

Diamonds come in fancy hues ranging from brilliant white, red and blue to black.

Sapphires>—most popular in blue—occur in pink, yellow, green, white and, indeed, in every colour of the rainbow.

Rubies may range from pink to blood-red.

Yellow-green and blue-green are the shades in which emeralds are found.

Most gemstones range from light to dark shades. Treatment with heat, radiation, waxing/oiling, and fracture-filling enhances their colour and clarity. For instance, irradiation produces fancy coloured diamonds, and treatments with wax or oil improve the colour and appearance of emeralds and turquoises. Lab-created gemstones are physically, visually, and chemically identical to their natural counterparts. These are not imitation or simulated stones like zirconia.

Three famous and rare gemstones

The Mohs scale of hardness measures the hardness of a gemstone; 1 is the softest, and 10, the hardest. Typically, rare and famous gems draw their names from their discoverers. The most famous one is the Hope Diamond—named after the London banker, Thomas Hope. Its provenance can be traced to the Travenier Blue, mined in 17th century India and owned by French, British, and Turkish royalty.

The 563-carat Star of India, rumoured to be over a billion years old, is the world’s largest sapphire. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Painite as the rarest gemstone in the world. It was named after gemologist Arthur Pain, who discovered it.

You will find beautifully crafted authentic gemstone jewellery here at The Jewellery Room, curated by jewellery experts and lovers of fine things.