Gemstone Facts

January Garnet

Not all garnets are red! The garnet group of related minerals produces gems of every hue, including fiery red pyrope, vibrant orange spessartine, and rare intense-green varieties of grossular and andradite.

A green garnet, tsavorite, (first discovered in Tanzania) is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form. Demantoid is another rare and famous green garnet. Russia is a source of premium quality stones.

Malaia Garnets are a blend of pyrope, almandine and spessartite and flash beautiful deep reds, pinks and purples and are found in Tanzania, Kenya and Madagascar. Spessartine is an orange garnet (mined in Namibia), and rhodolite is a beautiful purple-red garnet which is found in Sri Lanka.

Garnets are mined in many other countries including: Kenya, Brazil, Myanmar, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The birthstone for those born in January is the Garnet. Named from the Latin word for pomegranate and famed for its variety of red hues. Garnet promises true friendship and fidelity for its January wearers.
February Amethyst

Up until the 19th Century, Amethyst was as expensive as ruby and emerald,  when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered. Today, as the most valued quartz variety, amethyst is in demand for designer pieces and its purple to pastel hues are adored by many. Its purple color can be cool and bluish, or a reddish purple that’s sometimes referred to as “raspberry.”

It is found in mines in Brazil, Uraguay, Arizona and Zambia. In gem localities like Brazil, amethyst sometimes forms in hollow, crystal-lined geodes so big you can stand in them.

In Bolivia, amethyst and citrine occur in the same crystal. The unique gems, called ametrine, are half purple and half yellow.

For those born in February, wearing an amethyst stone is traditional. It is said to wear an amethyst offers its February wearers sincerity and peace of mind. Amethyst is a form of quartz, used commonly as a decorative stone by the ancient Greeks thanks to its eye-catching purple hues.
March Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the light pastel green-blue to blue variety of the mineral beryl whereas Emerald is the green to bluish green variety of the same mineral.

The best gems combine high clarity with transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Like many beryls, aquamarine forms large crystals suitable for sizable fashioned gems and carvings.

It is found in Brazil, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria, Zambia, in the high mountains of Pakistan and most recently in Vietnam.

The birthstone for March is Aquamarine, as its name suggests, aquamarine is a sea blue in colour. To wear an Aquamarine if you were born in March is said to keep you serene and cool headed, no matter the situation.

April Diamond

The diamond, which is the hardest gem of all (58 times harder than anything else in nature!) is made of just one element: carbon. It’s valued for its colorless nature and purity. Most diamonds are primeval—over a billion years old—and form deep within the earth.

Diamond’s unique optical and physical properties give it the highest possible luster of any transparent gemstone.

Diamonds are found in many places across the globe. Our neighbour Australia's Argyle Mine is the world's largest producer of diamonds by volume. This is also where the famed pink diamonds are found.

The birthstone for April is the famed diamond. Admired across the globe and throughout history for its enduring beauty and physical properties, the diamond has been associated with relieving bitterness and vanity from those born in April.

"Lucy" in the Sky: Fifty light years from earth, this star is a 10 billion-trillion-trillion carat diamond. WOW!
May Emerald

Emerald is the bluish green to green variety of beryl, a mineral species that includes aquamarine.

The most desirable emerald colors are bluish green to pure green, with vivid color saturation and tone that’s not too dark.

Emeralds typically contain inclusions that are visible to the unaided eye. Because of this, trade members and some consumers understand and accept the presence of inclusions in emeralds.
The most-prized emeralds are highly transparent but as Emeralds are normally included these stones are very rare.

Colombia is the most famous source in the world for producing emeralds. Brazil has a large production of the stone and has strict laws and some eco-friendly mines. Zambia is producing some outstanding quality emeralds. Mines in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, China, Madagascar and Zimbabwe are the only known sources of Emerald.

Because of its fracturous nature, Emerald cutting is difficult. Israel is famous for being a leading expert in cutting emerald. Jaipur in India is a large centre known 

Emeralds are the birthstone for May. Known for their vivid green hues and often cut into the signature style ‘Emerald cut’, a faceted rectangle style of Gem cutting. Emeralds are said to bring those born to May, simply love and happiness.
June Pearl

Perhaps the best-loved gems of all time, pearls occur in a wide variety of colors. The most familiar are white and cream, but pinks, golds, silvers and dark greys through to peacock and black are popular too. Natural pearls form around a microscopic irritant in the bodies of certain mollusks. Cultured pearls are the result of the deliberate insertion of a bead or piece of tissue that the mollusk coats with nacre.

The beauty of the pearl lies in its lustre. Luster results from reflection of light rays off the pearl’s surface, and from concentric inner layers of nacre, like light bouncing off a convex mirror. The colour of the pearl is normally determined by the colour of the lip of the mollusk.

There are four major types of cultured whole pearls:
Akoya: (produced in Japan and China)
South Sea: a larger pearl produced in Australia, Indonesia and Philippines
Tahitian: cultivated in the waters around the islands of French Polynesia and normally silver, grey and black in colour
Freshwater: produced in lakes and ponds and have a variety of sizes, shapes and colours and can be dyed to create more interesting strands.

Imitation pearls are smooth when rubbed against your teeth, while natural or cultured pearls have a slightly rough texture.

For those born in June, the pearl, with its illustrious long history of being used to adorn those of noble birth, is the birthstone. Pearls are unique in the realm of precious stones as they develop from sea creatures. Pearls are said to bring luck to their June wearers.
July Ruby

Second only to Diamonds in value, Rubies hold the highest value per carat of all the coloured stones.

Belonging to the mineral corundum family, Ruby is the stone created when chromium becomes present in the corundum minerals structure. Colourless in its pure form, the chromium causes the red colour Rubies are so famed for, the intensity of red depends on how much chromium is present, the deepest red being the most prized and is traditionally described as 'Pigeons Blood'. 

Rubies have long been regarded as one of the most valuable of gems, this record was set in May 2012, with 6.02 carat ruby ring selling for 3.3 million.

Many early cultures attributed much power and meaning to rubies, the red colour meant it was easily aligned with passionate emotions, potentially as it was the same colour as blood, rubies have been seen as symbols of love, gifts for gods, protectors in battle, guarantees of success and holders of the power of life.

Rubies of the highest quality are generally found in Myanmar, the Himalayas and Northern Vietnam. They often form within marble, as layers throughout the marble veins.
August Peridot

Formed deep within the earth, (usually), is the bright green Peridot, the gem variety of the mineral olivine.  Of all the gem stones, Peridot can lay claim to being the eldest, as traces of it were found in a meteorite dating back to an estimated 4.5 Billion years!

However on earth, Peridot is made within the intense pressure and heat of the upper mantle and is brought to the surface through tectonic activity, such as volcanoes. Today Peridot is most commonly found in USA, China and Vietnam.

An ancient source of Peridot is the Island of Zabargad, which was mined for Peridot by the ancient Egyptians. Due to Peridot’s colour, ranging from brown-green to yellow-green to bright green, it was known to this ancient culture as the gem of the sun. 

Due to its association with light, the special qualities it was given involve the idea of bringing ‘light’ into dark places. Peridot was believed to ward off evil spirits and protect from the dangers of night.


September Sapphire

When Prince William proposed to Catherine Middleton in 2010, the eyes of the world were firmly fixed onto the 12 carat Sapphire engagement ring, the same worn by Princess Diana, with which he had proposed.

This is only a modern example of Sapphires being used to adorn royalty and as a symbol of love and romance. This usage is very much part of the history behind this gem stone.

Sapphires belong to the mineral species corundum; the same species as Rubies, what differentiates the two gems depends on what trace element is present with in the corundum. Rubies have chromium present causing its famed red, whilst the presence of Iron and titanium in mineral corundum leads to the blue hues that Sapphires are synonymous with.

Whilst Sapphires can come in a variety of colours, (known as fancy sapphires), it has long been considered the superlative blue gem. It is used as the standard blue gem to which others are ranked.

Sapphires found from the Kashmir region became particularly known for their deep, rich blue hues. Today the term Kashmir Sapphire refers to the ones with the luxurious velvet blue colour. 

In Sri Lanka, a rare sapphire known as ‘ Padparadscha’ which translates to Lotus flower. This sapphire is a delicate coral coloured stone and is of great importance and value in Sri Lanka.

Today most Sapphires are mined in Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Australia.  
October Tourmaline

In 1554, an expedition from Spain to Brazil, involved the finding of what the Spanish believed to be an emerald. This ‘Brazilian emerald’ was in fact the first recording of what we now know was a green tourmaline.

Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of exciting colors. In fact, tourmaline has one of the widest color ranges of any gem species, occurring in various shades of virtually every hue.

Many tourmaline colour varieties have inspired their own trade names:
  • Rubellite is a name for pink, red, purplish red, orangy red, or brownish red tourmaline.
  • Indicolite is dark violetish blue, blue, or greenish blue tourmaline.
  • Paraíba is an intense violetish blue, greenish blue, or blue tourmaline from the state of Paraíba, Brazil.
  • Chrome tourmaline is intense green. In spite of its name, it’s colored mostly by vanadium, the same element that colours many Brazilian and African emeralds.
  • Parti-coloured tourmaline displays more than one colour. One of the most common combinations is green and pink, but many others are possible.
  • Watermelon tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the outside. Crystals of this material are typically cut in slices to display this special arrangement.
Tourmaline is mined in various locations around the world, with many producers in the African Continent: Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. It is also found in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Madagascar, USA, Myanmar and Brazil where the famous Paraiba comes from.
November Topaz

Few gemstones have such a colourful range as Topaz. This gemstone is colourless in its natural state; however the wide variety of pinks, purples, yellows and browns are caused by trace elements in the crystals structure.

Despite blue being one of the more common colours for consumers to equate with it, blue topaz does not occur naturally. Rather the colourless topaz is treated which turns the gem sky-blue. 

The name Topaz comes from the island Topazios, which was mined by the ancient Egyptians for what they believed was Topaz, but was in fact Peridot. Other well-known sources of topaz include the Ural Mountains in Russia. Here the pink coloured topaz found were known as "Imperial Topaz" and could only be owned by the Russian Royal family.

When found, topaz crystals come in size much larger than its fellow precious gems. In Brazil a topaz weighing 271 kilos was mined!
December Tanzanite

Rich royal purple and blue tones exotic tanzanite is found in only one place on earth, near majestic Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Tanzanite is pleochroic, which means that its colour alters depending on the crystal direction. Tilting a tanzanite reveals a range from deep blue to purple, and depending on how it is cut, either the blues or purples will flash intensely. 

Because it only has a single source and such strong colour intensity, tanzanite has become a rare and much desired stone. 

At TORY & KO. we have a relationship with a wonderful Tanzanite Gem Merchant who is from Tanzania. He goes back to his home country and buys from his fellow miners. We like supporting him as we know the trade is helping families over in Tanzania.

Here are a few examples of pieces we have made from this beautiful stone...

     Tanzanite and Diamond Ring-92   Tanzanite Pendant-45

This beautiful pale pink coloured stone comes form the Beryl family of gemstones (of which Emerald and Aquamarine are famous).

Generally, pure pinks to purplish pinks with strong colour saturation are the rarest and most valuable morganite colours, although it also communise pretty salmon pink hues which some people prefer. The colour is derived from manganese which is found in the beryl stone (unlike the trace elements of chromium, which gives an emerald its green hue, and iron found in aquamarine and golden beryl).

Morganite is rarer than aquamarine however large cut stones are becoming available as they are becoming desirable for their clarity and pastel hues. Most of the morganite on the market comes from pegmatite (solidified magma fluid) mines in Brazil and it can be cut into many beautiful shapes and decent sizes due to the large size of the crystal formation.