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Amethyst – February’s Birthstone

amethyst gemstone february birthstone

Amethyst gemstones have captivated humankind for centuries. The lilac-to-deep purple hues were once reserved for royalty or religious figures who wore it as a symbol of their important stature in society. Its lore comprises several claims to mystical powers, including that it would convey strength and wit to those who wore it. Amethyst was also associated with Bacchus, the ancient Greek god of wine, and wearing it was thought to keep the drinker sober.

Amethyst comes from many places around the world and is a gemstone everyone can enjoy. It is the February birthstone, but those born in other months also take pleasure from its charm and beauty.

Amethyst Facts

  • Amethyst belongs to the quartz species and is related to rock crystal, citrine,  and agate (a variety of chalcedony).
  • Russia was a classic source for amethyst. Current sources include Brazil, Bolivia, South Africa, South Korea, the United States, Uruguay and Zambia.
  • Amethyst is a fairly durable gemstone with a hardness of 7.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Amethyst gemstones can be cut into many shapes and sizes, often as cabochons or beads, and is also carved for ornamental use.
  • Nature produces a variety known as ametrine, a combination of amethyst and citrine. This gem is purple and yellow and is frequently cut to show its division of color or in a way that mixes the colors, forming interesting medium dark to moderately strong orange, and vivid to strong purple or violet hues.

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Ammolite Gemstone Information

ammolite gemstone

Ammolite is celebrated globally for its naturally captivating rainbow colors and layers of vibrant iridescence. Ammolite originates from prehistoric marine fossils that date back 71-million years and received official gem status as recently as 1981 by the World Jewellery Confederation. Feng Shui experts believe its colorful display awakens positive energy and stimulates creativity, energy, wisdom, intellect and wealth. Wearers and collectors call ammolites “gems of enlightenment.” 


Ammolite’s luminous qualities rival the black opal for color and fire. Ammolite reflects a rainbow’s worth of colors (red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple and more), and the luminous color spectrum in each gem is unique. Browse ammolite gemstone jewelry in our Jewelry Gallery.


To date the only source of ammolite is in Alberta, Canada.


Naturally, ammolite is a soft gemstone with a 3.5-4 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. A protective spinel crystal is often applied to protect the ammolite gem, increasing the hardness to 8.5.


Ammolites are not generally treated. It’s all-natural color is its most distinctive feature.

Care & Cleaning

  • As with most gemstone jewelry, you want to minimize scratching and wear, so store each piece of fine jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Ammolite jewelry is best cleaned with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth. 
  • Most importantly, take all your fine jewelry to a professional jeweler, like a local Jewelers of America Member jewelry store, at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.
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January Birthstone – Garnet

Garnet gemstones are among the most diverse of the gemstone groups, because it encompasses different species and varieties. Garnet varieties are extraordinarily diverse in color, and some rare varieties exhibit phenomenal characteristics, such as a star effect (aster-ism) or a color-change effect when viewed under different lighting. The deep, red varieties of garnet have been compared to pomegranate seeds, and in fact, garnet is a derivation of the word “pomegranate.” 

Garnet is the January birthstone and may be celebrated in its many varieties, providing an array of choices for gemstone enthusiasts. 

Garnet Facts

  • Garnet varieties and species come in a rainbow of colors, such as red, orange, yellow and green.
  • Tsavorite (green) garnet was named for the region where it is mined near Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Yellowish orange to bright orange spessartine garnet is named after Spessart, Germany, where it was discovered. Russia is an important source for demantoid garnet. Other sources of garnet include Brazil, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and the United States.
  • Nature also produces “collector” garnets. Star garnets are found in India, the U.S. state of Idaho, and Sri Lanka; a rare form of iridescent andradite garnet is found in Mexico; and garnets that change color in different light are found in Kenya, Madagascar and Sri Lanka.
  • Garnets have a hardness of 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Garnets can be faceted or carved as cabochons or beads.

Garnet Treatment

  • Garnets are rarely treated because of their natural clarity and color. Any treatments should be disclosed to the buyer.

Garnet Care & Cleaning

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each piece of fine jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Garnet jewelry is best cleaned with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth. Avoid steam cleaning.
  • Take all your fine jewelry to Gary’s Gem Garden at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.
  • See our full guide to jewelry care and cleaning.
  • Information from Jewelers of America Website

Content © GIA. Image © Robert Weldon/GIA

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New Holiday Hours

Our holiday hours are changing this year!

The last week in November we will keep our regular hours! Holiday hours will start on December 1st as follows:

Holiday Hours 
Starting  December 1st – December 24th

Monday – Wednesday 10 am – 6 pm
Thursday & Friday 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 4 pm

December 24th we will be open until about 4 pm.


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November Birthstone


Topaz gemstones are often confused with citrine or smoky quartz; however, the colors we appreciate topaz for have a wide range ­– from pink to orange, red, purple, brown, yellow and even colorless. The name for this gem dates to biblical times, and its meaning has evolved over time. Its name likely derived from the island of Topazos, in the Red Sea, where Romans found yellowish gems.

Topaz is the November birthstone, but those born in other months also take pleasure from its warmth and beauty.

Topaz Facts

  • Topaz is a mineral species that occurs naturally in a broad color range, including various reds, pinks, purples, yellows, oranges and browns. More rarely, blue material is found.
  • Brazil remains an important source for topaz. Other sources include Australia, Madagascar, Mexico, Burma (Myanmar), Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the United States.
  • Topaz is a fairly durable gemstone with a hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Topaz can be cut into many shapes and sizes, often as faceted gems or cabochons.

Topaz Treatment

  • Topaz is commonly heated to change some of the yellow and reddish brown topaz to create pink gems. The vast majority of blue topaz on the market is irradiated, and heated. Another form of treatment common to topaz is surface coating, which results in many colors. Any treatments should be disclosed to the buyer.

Topaz Care & Cleaning

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each piece of fine jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to bright light as some stones may fade.
  • Avoid the use of ultrasonic and steam cleaners.
  • Topaz jewelry is best cleaned with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth.
  • Take all your fine jewelry to Gary’s Gem Garden at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.
  • See our full guide to jewelry care and cleaning.

Content © GIA. Image © Robert Weldon/GIA

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Individuals born in October get to choose between two birthstones—tourmaline and opal. Each gem then unveils nearly limitless possibilities, as each one comes in a rainbow of shades and color combinations.

In fact, both of October’s birthstones came to earth through a journey involving rainbows, according to legend.

Between tourmaline (whose color depends on trace elements in its chemical makeup) and opal (which diffracts light to show a play of multiple colors), October’s birthstones offer a full spectrum of gems to suit anyone’s personal tastes.

The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” The Roman scholar Pliny used the word opalus when he wrote about this gem’s kaleidoscopic “play” of colors that could simulate shades of any stone.

Opal’s characteristic “play-of-color” was explained in the 1960s, when scientists discovered that it’s composed of microscopic silica spheres that diffract light to display various colors of the rainbow. These flashy gems are called “precious opals;” those without play-of-color are “common opals.”

Dozens of opal varieties exist, but only a few (like Fire Opal and Boulder Opal) are universally recognized. Opals are often referred to by their background “body color”—black or white.

Opal’s classic country of origin is Australia. Seasonal rains soaked the parched outback, carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. When the water evaporated, these deposits formed opal. Sometimes, silica seeped into spaces around wood, seashells and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils.

Since opal was discovered in Australia around 1850, the country has produced 95 percent of the world’s supply. Opal is also mined in Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic and parts of the U.S., including Nevada and Idaho.

The water content of opal can range from three to 21 percent – usually between 6 and 10 in gem-quality material. This, combined with hardness of only 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, makes opal a delicate gem that can crack or “craze” under extreme temperature, dehydration or direct light.

Wearing opal is well worth the extra care, though. For centuries, people have associated this gem with good luck. Though some recent superstitions claim that opals can be bad luck to anyone not born in October, this birthstone remains a popular choice.


Click on link for  more great information about opals and tourmalines;


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Examining Pyrite, Iron and Flint: The Fire Makers By Toni Rah

August 6, 2018

One of the oldest and best preserved human mummies ever found is that of Ötzi, a man who lived some 5,300 years ago near the present border of Austria and Italy. His remains, preserved in an alpine glacier high in the Ötztal Alps, were found 1991. That Ötzi lived during the transition between the late Stone Age and the dawning Copper Age is evident from his possessions: a flint knife and a copper axe. Also among his possession were pieces of flint and pyrite, the key materials of early percussion fire making.

Foundation of Fire

Flint's striking edgesFlint, hard and durable, was easily shaped into striking edges that could fragment pyrite or steel to create sparks. (Image courtesy                                                                                                                     click here to read more about this.

Anthropologists believe humans first created artificial fire between 250,000 and 700,000 years ago using simple drills in which wood-on-wood friction generated ignition heat. Much later, they learned to make fire by striking certain mineral materi­als with hard objects.

The first mineral-sparking material was pyrite, or iron disulfide. The striking materi­al was flint, a form of microcrystalline quartz. Harder than pyrite, flint could be easily shaped into a striking edge. When flint strikes pyrite, part of the pyrite surface shatters and emits a shower of sparks, which can ignite dry tinder.

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Peridot gemstones were once thought to contain rays of sunshine, an observation likely borne from its golden to deep green glow when in sunlight. The Egyptians first found peridot at Zabargad, a Red Sea island and peridot was found in jewelry from the early 2nd millennium BCE. Peridot gemstones were thought to protect wearers from evil spirits. Peridot is a gemstone everyone can enjoy. It is one of the August birthstones, but those born in other months may also take pleasure from its beauty.

Peridot Facts

  • Peridot is the gem-quality green variety of olivine.
  • Egypt was an early source of peridot but is no longer a commercial producer of it. Burma (Myanmar) and, more recently, China, Pakistan and the United States are the world’s most productive sources today. Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Norway and Sri Lanka are sources too, but have not produced significant commercial quantities in recent years.
  • Peridot has a hardness of 6.5-7.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Peridot gemstones can be cut into many shapes and sizes, often as faceted gems and sometimes as cabochons or beads.
  • Peridot can be yellowish green to greenish yellow to brownish-green. Some contain inclusions that cause internal stresses, which produce discoid fractures known as lily pad inclusions.

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Guide to Buying Gemstone Jewelry

How to select quality gemstones and gemstone jewelry

Beauty. Rarity. Durability. Discover the attributes that attract us to colored gemstones for personal adornment and make gemstones valuable and precious. Colored gemstones provide the opportunity for uniquely personal expression. Use Jewelers of America’s guide to buying gemstone jewelry to ensure you select the highest quality gemstone jewelry for your budget.

How Gemstones Are Graded

While gemstones have similar quality factors as diamonds (cut, clarity, color and cut), they are valued differently for gemstones. For example, color is by far the most important C for colored gemstones, whereas cut is usually considered the most important C for diamonds.

Gemstone Color

Most colored gemstones derive their beauty from their color – purples, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, reds. Three factors relate to a gemstone’s color:

Hue: the pure color on the spectrum, describes the dominant color and any additional colors visible in a gem.

Tone: the lightness or darkness of a color. In the GIA color-grading system, tones range from very light to very dark.

Saturation or intensity: is the purity of the hue.

When buying colored gemstone jewelry, select what you consider beautiful. Because of the subtle differences in the tone and hue of the colored gemstone you are considering, look at several to find the one you prefer. Each gem variety has an optimal hue, tone and saturation, your jeweler can show you and explain the how gemstones each exhibit their optimal color.

Gemstone Cut

Gem cutters work to achieve a pleasing and affordable mix of color, weight and a safe shape for mounting. During creation, a gemstone’s size is constrained by nature. For example, while large and beautiful amethysts are readily available, an alexandrite of large size is extremely rare.

Sparkle adds to the beauty of a well-cut colored gemstone. The cut of a colored gemstone describes its shape and how it is fashioned. Some gemstones, such as opal, are suited to a smooth, rounded surface. Others, such as sapphire, are more frequently shaped with a precise series of flat, symmetrical planes, called facets, which make the most pleasing illumination of the gem’s color. Some cutters today may also use convex or concave facets, shaping colored gemstone like small sculptures.

Learn more about Cut in our Diamond section >

Gemstone Clarity

The clarity of colored gemstones contributes to their beauty. Unless a gemstone is opaque and blocks all light, how light moves through the gemstone affects its beauty. Some gemstones have few internal inclusions to interrupt the passage of light, as is the case with most pieces of tanzanite. Others have characteristic inclusions. For example, some emerald has a “jardine” (garden), which makes each gem truly unique.

Learn more about Clarity >

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