A-Z of Gemstones

Our guide to everything you need to know about gemstones. From how they were formed millions and even billions of years ago, the many varieties of beautiful colours you can choose from and how to take care of these little miracles of nature.


Amber is considered a wonder gem, formed millions of years ago from fossilised tree resin it has earned its reputation as natures little time capsule.

This fantastic organic gemstone comes in an array of fabulous colours, from classic red, yellow and orange to the much rarer white, green and blue.

The most desirable Amber in jewellery has very few inclusions. However, there are very valuable examples of amber that are scientifically relevant and have inclusions of insects or plants, perfectly preserved from millions of years ago.

Amber is often cut as cabochons or beads and rarely seen faceted. The lightweight nature allows for designers to produce bold large designs without concern for becoming too heavy.

It is safe to clean your amber jewellery using warm soapy water and a cloth. Amber is softer than some gemstones so extra care needs to be taken when its worn.

Sample image of Amber


Amethyst was once considered rarer than ruby, and is the most sought-after variety of the quartz crystal.

This distinct luxurious purple gemstone is relatively clear of inclusions which makes it particularly beautiful when set in jewellery. It is not hard to see why this extremely popular stone has been a firm favourite throughout history.

Amethysts are super versatile and come fashioned in a variety of fancy cuts, cabochons and beads. A durable gem that ranks 7 on Moh's scale of hardness making it ideal for everyday wear.

The birthstone of February, an astrologer once said that wearing amethyst quickens intelligence.

It is safe to clean your amethyst jewellery using warm soapy water and a cloth.

Sample of Amethyst


Aquamarine is a gorgeous blue to greenish blue stone from the beryl crystal family, and is named after the sea, something it resembles so well.

Bright and beautiful, they are relatively clear of inclusions with a high vitreous lustre meaning that when polished they really dazzle in jewellery.

They come in lots of different sizes and are often cut as faceted stones and occasionally beads.

You can wear Aquamarine all day as it is a durable gemstone ranking 7.5 on Moh's scale of hardness.

They are perfect for anyone born in March as aquamarine is the birthstone for that month. They are super easy to maintain and can be cleaned using warm soapy water.

Sample of Aquamarine


Citrine is a beautiful gemstone that comes in shades of glorious yellow and orange, and has a more intense hue compared to other similar coloured stones.

A stunning member of the quartz crystal family they are often cut as faceted gems and with their bright lustre they look stunning set in jewellery. They also come as beads and sometimes carvings.

They are a very popular choice and have been throughout history, with some stunning antique examples in existence.

With an autumnal feel and are the birthstone for November. Citrine's are easy to care for and can be cleaned using warm soapy water.

Sample of Citrine


Diamonds are among nature’s most precious and beautiful creations, formed under extreme conditions of high pressure and high temperature, hundreds of miles beneath the earth's surface, and are made of just one element (carbon).

They are Primeval and form over billions of years. 58 times harder than anything else in nature they rank 10 on Moh's scale of hardness; nothing but diamond can scratch a diamond.

There are not many other consumer products that undergo the scrutiny that diamonds are subjected to. They are most commonly graded on the four c’s; a grading system created by GIA. The subtle variations in colour, cut, clarity and carat contribute to the significant differences in a diamond’s value.

The optical effects seen in diamonds are what make it so wonderful and unique, its unlike any other gemstone.

For those lucky enough to be born in April it is the birthstone of that month and diamonds are what is traditionally set in an engagement ring.

The famous diamond star called Lucy in the sky is fifty light years from earth and it weighs 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats.

Sample of round brilliant Diamond


Emerald is a beautiful green gemstone from the Beryl crystal family. The official gem of spring and the birthstone for May it is a very popular choice with some stones being more valuable than diamonds.

The first known mines for emeralds were in Egypt and it’s believed that these were worked as early as 3500BC. Emeralds have been used in jewellery throughout history and its not hard to see why they have remained so popular.

They are durable however, you do have to take care of them as they are brittle. The emerald-cut is the safest shape for an emerald. The majority on the market have been oiled to improve their clarity and so care must be taken when cleaning; we advise using a damp cloth with no detergent that could remove the oil.

Sample of an Emerald


Garnets are extremely popular and have been throughout history. They are often associated with the colour red, however, they actually come in an array of colours from red and orange through to bright green.

One of the worlds most complex gemstones their are many different varieties, from Almandine and Pyrope a red variety to Spessartine a vibrant orange variety through to Tsavorite which is a wonderful aluminous green.

Garnets are durable making them perfect for everyday wear. They come in many various styles and sizes including faceted gems, cabochons and beads.

The birthstone for January they have been popular throughout time with lots of lovely modern and antique examples in existence, and are super easy to clean using soapy water.

Sample of a cut Garnet

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli is treasured for its exquisite blue colour and in ancient times was reserved for royalty. Legend has it that this attractive stone is thought to bring intellect, peacefulness and self-acceptance.

The silver pyrite inclusions seen in Lapis makes this deep blue gem reminiscent of a night sky with twinkling stars.

It is most commonly cut as cabochons, beads, inlays or tablets and sometimes specimens are large enough to be carved into decorative objects.

Historians believe that the link between man and Lapis goes back over 6500 years. It was even used by painters in the renaissance period to make ‘ultramarine’ an expensive blue pigment known for its brightness and stability.

In jewellery the most expensive examples are dark blue to violet blue.
Due to its porous nature it must never be cleaned using a steam or ultrasonic cleaners, simply wipe gems using a damp cloth.

Sample of Lapis Lazuli


Opals are beautiful gems that are renowned for their memorising optical properties. They first became popular in the Victorian period and symbolise love and passion.

The majority in existence come from Australia, and prior to mines being discovered here opals were extremely rare with only small deposits being found in America, Africa and Europe.

There are many different types of natural opals. There is black opal, white opal, crystal opal, jelly opal, and other kinds such as fire opal, hyalite, water opal, hydrophane and honey opal. Some display a spectacular play of colour showing flashes of blue, green and red which is possible because of their structural composition. They are usually cut as cabochons or beads which is perfect for showcasing this lovely optical effect. Fire opal, unlike white and black opals are transparent and orange in colour. They are most commonly fashioned as a faceted gems. Black Opal is the most valuable.

They are light and so large designs are still really comfortable to wear. Care must be taken when worn as they are softer than other gems and can be effected by chemicals in perfumes and hairsprays. We advise they are the last thing to be put on to stop any damage being done.

Sample of an Opal


Peridot is prized for being a wonderful green to yellowish green colour and have been very popular throughout history, with it being called ‘The Gem of the Sun’ in ancient times.

They look fantastic set in jewellery as they are relatively clear of inclusions and have a bright lustre.

A durable gem means they are perfect for every day wear and come cut in a wide variety of styles including oval, cushion and emerald-cut, as well sometimes being fashioned as beads and cabochons. They are super easily to care for and can be cleaned using soapy water. It is not recommend that they are cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.

Sample of Peridot


Rubys can command the highest price per-carat of any coloured gemstone on the market and are highly prized for being a gorgeous red colour. From the corundum crystal they are exceptional when set in jewellery and have been popular throughout history.

The colour is the most significant factor in a Ruby’s value and fine examples glow an intense red in sunlight. Some display a lovely rare and beautiful star when cut as a cabochon, these are know as Star Ruby and is possible because of specifically orientated inclusions.

Often cut as a faceted gems in various different shapes they are very hard wearing and rank 9 on Moh's hardness scale. This makes them perfect for everyday wear in jewellery. They are also really easy to clean using soap and water, and in an ultrasonic or steam cleaning machine.

Sample of Ruby


Sapphire, like ruby are from the Corundum crystal and come in an array of colours, such as blue, pink, green, yellow and orange. Blue sapphires are simply referred to as sapphires, and other colours are specified as yellow sapphires, pink sapphires etc. Some exhibit a phenomenon known as colour change, where gems look different colours under different light sources. Like ruby, they can display a lovely, rare and beautiful star when cut as a cabochon, these are know as Star Sapphire and is possible because of specifically orientated inclusions.

Gems are relatively clear of inclusions and have a bright lustre making them look amazing when set in jewellery. They are hard wearing and rank 9 on Moh's hardness scale making them perfect for every day wear. They are usually fashioned as faceted gems but do also come as cabochons and beads.

The birthstone for September, they are exceptionally popular gemstones and look fantastic in jewellery having been hugely popular throughout history. They are also really easy to clean using soap and water, and in an ultrasonic or steam cleaning machine.

Sapphire is one of the big three in jewellery. The other two being ruby and emerald.

Sample of a Sapphire


In 1967 this relatively modern gem was discovered near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and this is the only place on earth you can find this wonderful, bluish purple gemstone. Named by Tiffany & Co in honour of its birthplace it has becomes one of the most popular gemstones.

Gems display a wonderful blue to purple colour which becomes more intense depending on the angle at which it is viewed. The technical term for this is pleochroism, an optical phenomenon in which a substance has different colours when observed at different angles. Unsurprisingly it is this that makes them so very popular, with deeply saturated violet blue or blue violet being the most valuable.

They are the birthstone for December and a durable gemstone, so perfect for everyday wear. Gems are easy to clean using warm soapy water.

Sample of a Tanzanite


Throughout history topaz has been a very popular gem. The ancient Greeks believed that it gave them strength and in the Renaissance period people thought that topaz could break magic spells and dispel anger. For centuries, many people in India believed that wearing topaz above the heart assures long life, beauty, and intelligence.

It comes in a wide range of colours such as blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and colourless with the most common colour being blue. This super versatile gemstone is regularly fashioned as faceted gems, cabochons and beads. They can take a very high polish which gives them a great surface lustre, and they are relatively clear of inclusions and so really sparkle when set in jewellery.

A durable gem that ranks 8 on Moh's hardness scale making it perfect for everyday wear. The birthstone for November they are super easy to clean using warm soapy water.

Sample of a Topaz


In Brazil during the 16th century a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt from a green tourmaline crystal thinking the vibrant gem was an emerald. His confusion lived on until scientists recognised tourmaline as a distinct mineral species in the 1800s.

Tourmalines are a fantastic gemstone and come in amazing colours, in fact, it has the widest range of colours compared to any other gemstone. They also come in varying saturations and tones from red, pink and yellow through to blue and green. A variety called Watermelon Tourmaline is green on the outside, and a bright sugary pink on the inside, which is often cut and fashioned, to show off this lovely effect.

They are often cut as faceted gems in many shapes and sizes. The rough crystals, pre-cut are usually long which can result in long slender styles being adopted when cut.

Tourmalines are tough and measure 7-7.5 on Moh’s scale of hardness making them perfect for everyday wear.

The birthstone for October, they are easy to clean using warm soapy water.

Sample of a Tourmaline


Turquoise is one of the world’s most ancient gems.

Its name comes from the French expression pierre tourques, or “Turkish stone” which originated in the thirteenth century, and reflects the fact that the material probably first arrived in Europe from Turkish sources.

A rich and luxurious vivid blue stone which is defined by the colour it is named after, is only found in a few places on earth, historians believe it is one of the oldest gems to be used in jewellery.

Egyptians often refer to turquoise as ‘mefkat’ meaning joy and delight, and this wonderful gem is often cut into cabochons or beads and sometimes carved. It has the most wonderful vivid colour and cutters work around large areas of matrix to yield pieces with the most even colour distribution.

Turquoise is porous so must only be cleaned with a damp cloth and never with a steam or ultrasonic cleaner.

A sample of a Turquoise


Zircon comes in an array of wonderful colours from warm yellows, reddish browns to green and blue. It is known for its optical display of brilliance and fire and is often cut as round or oval shaped gems in order to emphasise this.

Diamond is the only other gem to display fire and brilliance and for centuries they were confused as the same thing. Today colourless zircon can be used as a diamond simulate as the optical properties are so similar, however zircon is much softer than diamond.

Thought to be up to 4.4 billion years old, they have been a very popular gem throughout history. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to aid a good nights sleep, drive away evil spirits, and promote riches, honour, and wisdom. Blue zircon was particularly popular during the Victorian period.

The birthstone for December, polished gems display a very high lustre. It can be safely and easily cleaned in warm soapy water but shouldn't be put in an ultrasonic or a steam cleaner.
A sample of a Zircon