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Gemstone Guide

Gemstone jewellery makes a perfect gift for Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Christenings or even milestone Wedding Anniversaries. Buying gemstone jewellery to reflect the recipient's individual qualities is a personal and thoughtful gift to give. Every month has its own gemstone which is said to be lucky for the people born in that month. There are many variations around the world, but in the following gemstone guide, you will find the ones most commonly used in the UK.


A gemstone is the naturally occurring crystalline form of a mineral that has been fashioned for personal adornment. For centuries gemstones have been a representation of wealth and power which can still be seen today with fashion-led trends. They are considered valuable because of their rarity, strength, beauty and durability.

In 1822, a German mineralogist called Friedrich Mohs created the scale to measure the relative hardness or scratch resistance of various minerals. Gemstones are rated in accordance to the Mohs' Scale for their hardness. Diamonds are the hardest of gemstones at ten on the Mohs scale while pearls are one of the softest at just three on the Mohs scale.


Found in countries such as Brazil, Russia, Madagascar and Canada, Amethyst has distinctive inclusions which resemble tiger-stripes, organic prints, or feathers. In a range of shades from purple, lilac and mauve, this beauty belonging to the quartz family will add elegance to all forms of jewellery. Amethyst is versatile due to the variety in colour, size and price point. Amethyst is believed to cure drunkenness and symbolise sobriety
Birthstone: February
Moh hardness: 7 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Taking its name from the French word 'Citron' for yellow, this radiant gemstone comes in transparent and opaque shades of yellow. The presence of iron in the quartz gives it the vibrant colour. Citrine can be found in Spain, Madagascar and Brazil but most market Citrine has been heat treated. It is a hard wearing gem that is suitable for everyday wear and great to complement yellow gold jewellery. Citrine is a gemstone of joy with vibrant energy and is believed to bring fortune and good luck.
Birthstone: November
Moh hardness: 7 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Created by melting zirconium oxide and yttrium together, Cubic Zirconia is a synthetic gemstone that closely resembles the beauty of diamonds. It is a highly popular gemstone used in all sorts of jewellery such as earrings, pendants, bracelets and rings and a great alternative to diamonds for fashion-led trends. Usually colourless, it can also be made in nearly any colour including Pink, Blue, Black, Lavender, Amethyst, Green and Champagne. Cubic Zirconia is believed to provide a sense of balance and calm to your aura.
Moh hardness: 8 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Say jewellery and most people think of beautiful sparkling Diamonds. Their desirability and beauty is unquestionable. Diamonds are the hardest mineral on earth and are mined in countries such as Ghana, Zaire, Brazil, Australia and USA. Nearly all diamonds have varying hints of yellow caused by the presence of nitrogen during their formation. There are also incredibly rare diamonds, which vary in colour from yellow and brown to pink and blue which are known as fancies. A Diamond's quality is graded by the four C's;

Carat is the weight of the diamond and should not be mistaken for the size of the stone or gold carats.

Clarity describes how free the diamond is from inclusions, the type, positions and amount of inclusions. Inclusions are the naturally occurring flaws found in a diamond.

Colour is graded using the
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) colour guide on how close a diamond is to being colourless.

Shape and quality are the two aspects that are considered when discussing the cut of a diamond. The most popular cut is the round brilliant cut.

Diamonds are believed to represent eternity, courage and health. For most customers, buying a diamond or piece of diamond jewellery is a very special and emotional purchase, especially when buying a diamond engagement ring. For more information on diamonds, visit our diamond buyer's guide.
Birthstone: April
Moh hardness: 10 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


This alluring green gemstone is mostly found in granites around Colombia. Chromium and Vanadium give it the envious green colour that will make any piece of jewellery look sublime. Emeralds are always oiled to strengthen and enhance their colour. Associated with loyalty, faithfulness and friendship, emeralds are ideal for both classic and contemporary style jewellery and are valued much the same way as diamonds; by cut, carat weight, clarity and colour.
Birthstone: May
Moh hardness: 7.5 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


The luxurious Garnet gemstone is commonly found in locations such as Italy, Mexico, Spain, Kenya and Russia. Garnet has colours ranging from browns, reds, oranges and yellows to purples, greens and blacks. The most popular Garnet gems are those which are transparent, faceted stones. Ancient Egyptians regarded them as the symbol of life and they are known to represent eternity and commitment, making garnets a great gemstone to add to an eternity ring or unusual engagement ring.
Birthstone: January
Moh hardness: 6.5 - 7.5 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Once known as the 'Queen of the Gems' by the Ancient Romans, Opals have a very special quality about them. Typically a soft stone with an average MOH rating of 6, they are most commonly found in sedimentary and igneous rocks of Australia. Split into two groups – precious or common they are made up of 5 - 10 per cent water and have an amorous crystal structure. Common opals are white, milky and opaque in colour, whereas precious Opals have flashes of iridescent colours, such as a combination of greens, pinks, reds, blues and oranges. Extra care should be taken when worn out in daylight to protect the precious gemstone. Opals are believed to enhance imagination and represent wisdom, hope and confidence.
Birthstone: October
Moh hardness: 5.5-6.5 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


This unique gemstone from the quartz family comes in colours of black and white or brown and white. Onyx is produced by soaking agate in a sugar solution, then heating it in sulphuric acid to carbonise the sugar particles. These gemstones are found worldwide and are typically stained to improve or change their colour. Onyx will give any piece of jewellery a minimalist, contemporary look. Onyx is believed to promote stamina and alleviate worries and fears.
Birthstone: December
Moh hardness: 7 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Found in various seas and rivers from the salt-waters and fresh-waters of Japan to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, pearls exhibit a natural shimmering quality. Delicately formed in shellfish such as oysters and mussels as a natural defence mechanism against irritants, Pearls represent peace and nobility. Hues of white, white with pink and black or brown can be found on a choice of Pearl jewellery. Extra care should be taken when wearing pearls as they are sensitive to acids, dryness and humidity.
Birthstone: June
Moh hardness: 3 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Late 15th Century Crusaders brought this lustrous lime green gem back from Egypt where it was believed that it could ward off demons. So invite some peace, luck and success into your life with this enchanting gem. The iron properties in the stone create luminous shades of green from light to deep. To preserve the beauty of Peridot, it should be treated with special care and attention. Store separately from other jewellery and clean with a soft cloth when needed.
Birthstone: August
Moh hardness: 6.5 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Second to the diamond for its hard-wearing qualities, Ruby is part of the corundum family. With a spectrum of colours from red to pinkish, purplish or brownish red, this is a gemstone that is great for stand-out style. Ruby has long been thought to possess powers to ward off ill-health and misfortune. Mostly originating from Sri Lanka and Thailand, Rubies are perfect quality for jewellery settings using precious metals such as yellow gold.
Birthstone: July
Moh hardness: 9 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Wearing Sapphire jewellery is ideal for a person with an active lifestyle as it is durable and great for everyday wear. Belonging to the corundum family, Sapphire is the name given to any gem in the family which is not red in colour. Sapphires are often cabochon cut (shaped and polished) but are also suited to a faceted and mixed cut which enhances its depth of colour. The most valuable is a clear, deep blue like the cornflower blue kind found in Sri Lanka. Sapphire is known to represent serenity and loyalty making a perfect 'Something Blue' gift for a bride to be.
Birthstone: September
Moh hardness: 9 (1 softest to 10 hardest)


Found in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Australia, Topaz is one of the harder gemstones meaning it can be worn every day. Typically in hues of light blue, the sophisticated gemstone can also be seen in yellow, pink, colourless, sherry topaz (light brown) and on rare occasions, red. Taking its name from the ancient word 'Tapas' meaning fire; this gem is suitable for any cut due to its hardness. Topaz is an extremely beautiful stone, with its light blue sparkle it is the perfect stone to be worn every day, it is believed to bring loyalty, strength and friendship into your life.
Birthstone: November
Moh hardness: 8 (1 softest to 10 hardest)

If you are interested in learning more about these and the many other types of gemstones around today, we highly recommend you visit the
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) website. They are the world's foremost authority on all things gemstone related and will give you a fascinating insight into the history and current developments in the world of precious stones.




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