Top Ten Gemstone Trends

1. Grey Spinel – we are head-over-heels for grey spinel. This sophisticated, mysterious beauty is captivating the alternative engagement ring market. Grey spinel comes in a range of different tones from silvery lilac-grey to deep warm charcoal and compliments all skin tones. It looks amazing set in rose gold which picks up on the warm tones or in white gold which enhances the cool violet tones. Choose either black or white diamonds to be set into the band or a combination of both if you are adventurous. Spinel is mostly more affordable than sapphire even though it’s a rarer stone. Like sapphire, it’s hard and durable enough for ring settings and can be worn every day. We have combined the winning combination of grey spinel, black diamonds and 18k rose gold in our bespoke engagement ring.

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2. Morganite – is the pretty peachy pink gem in the beryl family. Its other relatives include aquamarine and emerald. We love morganite as it looks so sophisticated in rose gold with diamond accents. One of our favourite ring designs is Lumiere - this morganite cocktail ring is handmade in rose gold and accented with diamonds. The design truly floods the centre stone with rays of light, creating lots of sparkle. Morganite is super feminine and many fashion savvy women are selecting it as an alternative engagement ring stone. It comes in peach or pink tones in the pastel palette and owes its soft colour to the transition element manganese. Morganite is a gorgeous gemstone choice for summer as it looks great with whites and neutrals, as well as brighter colours.

3. Aquamarine – The star of the alternative engagement ring trend is undoubtedly aquamarine. This cool blue member of the beryl family is beloved by everyone and its pale ocean tones of blues through to blue greens suits all skin types. Our aquamarine, diamond and white gold Lumiere ring embraces the beauty of the centre stone set, a 2.4ct cushion cut aquamarine of the finest blue. The colour of aquamarine goes so well with most colours of your wardrobe and has a calming effect as you admire your ring sparkling on your hand.

4. Indicolite Tourmaline – tourmaline has dramatically increased in popularity in recently times and it’s not surprising as this family of gemstones truly is the rainbow family. The array of colours available is astonishing and indicolite, with its intense teal tones, is highly prized. Mostly these rare gems come in small sizes of around 1 carat, however occasionally a big beauty surfaces such as the majestic indicolite set into our Atlantic ring that weighs in at an impressive 6.67 carats! Set in 18ct white gold with diamonds, this ring is the epitome of elegance.

5. Parti Sapphire – If you like unusual gemstones with unique colours then parti sapphires will grab your attention. Most of us think of sapphires as beautiful royal blue stones, however they come in every colour of the rainbow including ruby (which is corundum coloured by chromium). Parti sapphires are even more unusual as they display distinct colour zoning and have bands or patches of yellow and blue and sometimes green. They are yet to be synthesised so you are guaranteed that a parti sapphire is natural. We have set one on these mysterious beauties into our Sofia engagement ring. It complements the side pear cut diamonds to perfection.

6. London Blue Topaz – topaz is a hard stone (8 on the Mohs scale) so is a great choice for effective ring settings. Blue topaz ranges from light blue to deep, almost inky blue, the most valuable of this spectrum, named London Blue. Topaz comes in big carat weights and our knock out Illuminaire ring features a majestic London Topaz weighing in at 20 carats! Even though topaz is gorgeous looking, it is also a more affordable gemstone so you can go for a big stone without breaking the budget.

7. Mookaite Jasper – Ornamental gems are all the rage in Europe. The ornamentals are interesting as they are opaque to translucent and have unique patterns and sheens that transparent gems don’t have. We have used the desert colours and undulating pattern of Australian Mookaite jasper to create our Dawn earrings in silver with gold vermeil and champagne diamonds. These spectacular earrings would make the perfect gift from Australia as an alternative to precious opal.

8. Pink Spinel – If you love dazzling electric pink then hot pink spinel is for you. Coloured by chromium, the same element which gives ruby its gorgeous red colour, pink spinel has an almost neon fascination. It goes with so many stones – super elegant with black onyx drops as in our Blush earrings or daring with green emerald in our Manhattan earrings. The best material hails from Mahenge, which is a limestone plateau in Tanzania, Africa. The hot pink material from this region has catapulted spinel back into public favour.

9. Rutilated Quartz – Hot at the Idar-Oberstein pavilion at the Tucson 2017 gem fair earlier this year was fascinating rutilated quartz. This type of quartz features clear rock crystal with myriads of strands of acicular (needle-like) inclusions of golden or copper coloured rutile. These shiny strands were once called “Venus Hair” and you can easily see why. A stunning carre square cut rutilated quartz is the star in our Viva ring in yellow gold to enhance the colour of the rutile. A truly unique gemstone!

10. Malaya Garnet – if you like soft dreamy rose pinks then Malaya garnet is for you. These gorgeous stones were once disregarded as rejects as gem prospectors were looking for purple-red Rhodolite garnets and were named Malaya, which means “Outcast” in Swahili. Fortunately, some gem dealer with vision saw that these pretty stones in orange pinks and rose pinks would become highly sought after. Garnets belong to the cubic crystal system as does diamond and possess a special sparkle all of their own. We have featured them in our show stopping Lily earrings with sapphires and 18ct rose gold.

Arcadia - Top Colour Trend for 2018

The colour gurus at the Pantone Color Institute have just released the palette for 2018 and the star shade is the gorgeous verdant yet versatile Arcadia. This vibrant green with subtle blue undertones reflects the trend for thosewho want strong colour that can be paired with subdued neutrals. Designers are reflecting this trend with collections showing plenty of punchy colour. Fashion bible Vogueis heralding the arrival of this colour trend for next year which isboth retro and contemporary.

This is great news for coloured gemstone fans as Arcadia is one of those colours that looks terrific with so many different jewel tones. Anything in the blue family wouldcomplementthis hue beautifully. Aquamarine's pretty soft blue colour with hints of green would look so striking set in white gold and worn with Arcadia coloured clothing. Vibrant cornflower blue sapphires would also compliment and contrast well. The ornamental gems turquoise and amazonitewould also sit pretty next to Arcadia. Finally, the stars of the tourmaline family, Paraiba and Indicolite, would be delightful matcheswithArcadia.

For complete contrast, pink tourmaline set in rose gold or warm coloured garnets, from soft pink hued Malayas through to deep purple-red rhodolites, would look luscious against Arcadia. For a very regal look, deep red spinel or rich purple amethyst set in rose gold would sit divinely with the verdigris of Aracdia.

If you prefer to keep your jewellery neutral in colour when wearing stronger tones, imagine grey Tahitianpearls set in cool white gold or luscious South Seapearls in rose gold against Arcadia green. Elegant and understated.

Finally, if you are opposed to wearing strong colour and want to stick to a neutral wardrobe you could play with Arcadia coloured gemstone jewellery to add that on trend touch. Ornamental gemstones such as chrysoprase, amazonite and turquoise worn in strands of beads or set in statement earrings and rings would really lift beiges, whites and blacks into a more contemporary look.

Holiday Gift Guide

Nothing makes a more intimate and eternal gift than fine jewellery. At Lizunova we have a fabulous selection to choose from that will cater for a wide range of personal style and budget. Here we will make some suggestions to help you select the ideal gift for your special someone.

Gifts to $500

If you are looking for a stylish gift for a girlfriend, sister or daughter who is fashion forward and up with the latest trends then we have the perfect gifts to delight her. One of our signature earring styles, Line, is the embodiment of minimalism and can be worn with absolutely everything. If your girlfriend is the outdoor sporty type, then Line / Shortis perfect and looks amazing with a summer tan in silver or white gold. If she's more the sophisticate then Line / Long will add panache to her wardrobe. These divine long earrings softly swing as you move. Sterling silver looks great on blondes or brunettes with cool skin tones.

Gifts to $1000

Everyone loves diamonds and imagine being able to give beautiful handcrafted diamond jewellery for under a $1000! We have some gorgeous suggestions in this category. Firstly, our brand new Initial pendants are graced with a sparklingdiamond and are available in 9ct and 18ct gold (white, yellow and rose). The octagon setting is timeless and elegant,and as the pendant features your loved one's initial it makes a highly personalised gift. Our classic Geometric Round / Diamond earrings and necklaceare delicate and classic and would make a superb gift. This minimaliststyle is very versatile and is equally at home with a business suit, a smart casual outfit or a favourite pair of jeans.

Gifts to $2000

If you are looking for an elegant surprise to give on Christmas morning then our Aqua earrings in white gold or rose gold would be just the thing. These simple and timeless hook earrings feature kyanite, an exoticgemstone ina lovely neutral teal blue that works with so many outfitcolours. These earrings will suit most people: the white gold Aqua earrings would suit a blue-eyed blonde with a cool skin tone and the rose gold Aqua earrings would be great for olive or warm honey skinned ladies with dark hair. If diamonds will put a smile on her face then our Half Moon necklace in 9ct white gold with a round brilliant cut diamond will be a winner. This gorgeous necklace was inspired by images of the moon over Manhattan and is part of our New York New York collection. Another versatile piece that can be worn casually with jeans or her favourite LBD.

Gifts over $2000

If you want to givea really special Christmas gift this year we have some spectacular jewelsthat will be treasured forever. Diamonds delight all women and ourHudson design, available as diamondstuds,drop earrings and a diamond pendantnecklace, is a fabulous choice. Set in 18ct white gold with top quality diamonds, thiselegantdesign is anenduring classic. White gold has been the most popular metal choice for several years and is the best metal for enhancing the beauty of whitediamonds. However, if your lady prefers a different gold tone, we are happy to make any of the Hudson range in rose or yellow gold. If your partner loves coloured gems, ourstunning coloured gem rings will dazzle her. Some suggestions are Embrace / Tourmalinefor lovers of warm tones and indicolite tourmalineAtlantic for cool beauties. Pearls are another jewellery favourite and our handmade AustralianSouth Seapearl studs in rose gold and the white goldTahitiangrey pearl earrings with teal tourmalines are contemporary classics. Both earring styles are quite classic butnot staid's perfect for the modern woman who loves to look polished. Finally, if you want to give something uniquely Australian that will delight forever, our Auroranecklace with crystal opal from Andamooka and diamonds will electrify with its spectacular play of colour.

Time to Propose?

If you are a true romantic at heart and would like to propose on Christmas morning we have some gorgeous alternative engagement rings for the woman with strong individual style. Our glittering new Galaxy ring is sensational and definitely for those who adore stylish diamondrings. This ring can be stacked with a twin after she says I do. If she would like a classic with a twist, our Lumiere engagement ring is set with a saturated blue, cushion-cut aquamarine on a delicate diamond-set 18k white gold band.This ring would suit a red head or blonde with warm toned fair skin or would look great on a brunette with olive or dark skin. If your fiancée-to-be has more traditional taste, we can custom make a bespokering with a diamond or coloured gem as the central stone. Rose gold is a timeless beautyand we love the combination of grey spinel and black or white diamonds.

For Him

If you are looking for something unique for the man in your life, giving fine jewellery cufflinks in white gold or gold set with gemstones would make a superb gift. Our sculptural Half Moon cufflinks come inwhite gold,and in white gold set with grey spinels super stylish! If you want to give him a masculine and modern looking ring then look no further than our Linestyle. Made in palladium, a member of the platinum group, this minimalist design ring would look great worn on the index or ring finger. If your manis fashion conscious,a ring in black zirconium would be the perfect accessory to accent his wardrobe.

We hope you have the most marvellous holiday season and please contact us if we can assist with your jewellery needs this holiday season!

Precious Metals and Skin Tone

What colour suits me?

There are many elements to consider when selecting a piece of jewellery that you will love and wear every day. The design, the shape and colour of gemstones and diamondsand of course, which precious metal to create the setting. When selecting the precious best metal to suit you - silver, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, platinum etc., there are several things to consider. However, first and foremost, it's best to select the metal colour that best compliments your skin tone.

Your skin tone, also called undertone, is different from your complexion, which is the shade of your skin (light, medium, dark). Your undertone will remain the same no matter how much sun you get, even if you're pale in the winter and tan in the summer. There are three different undertones - cool, warm, and neutral. So how does one determine their own skin tone? First of all, it's best to cleanse your skin of any cosmetics and creams. You need to be able to view your skin in its raw state after cleansing. Wait 15 minutes so that your skin has time to settle and adjust after any cleansing or scrubbing is just experienceda flushed face would detract from your real skin tone.

The next step is to find a place with natural light only. Lighting can cast either green or yellow tones on to your skin which will affect your analysis. If you can sit next to a window on a sunny day you can get the right light otherwise you may need to take a mirror outside. Hold a white piece of paper up to your face.Looking in a mirror, try to see how your skin looks in contrast to the white paper. It may appear to have a yellow cast, a blue-red or rosy-coloured cast. It could also possibly seem to have a greyish cast.

The following is a guide to help you to determine your skin's undertone.

Besides the white paper there is another simple test. A sheet of gold and silver foil is required. Hold a sheet of gold foil in front of your face so that it reflects light back on your skin. Note whether it makes your face look greyish or washed out, or if it enhances your skin. Then try with a sheet of silver foil.

Once you have determined your skin tone its best to try on jewellery in different metal colours and see how well the different colours sit with your skin.

A few final points:

To conclude, it's a question of experimenting and we would be delighted to assist you in selecting the perfect piece of jewellery to suit your skin tone.

Black Pearls - Gem Treasures from the Ocean

Most of us think of gems as hard mineral, or shiny stones faceted from crystal rough that forms beneath the Earth's surface. However, there exist several organic gemstones formed through plants and animalprocesses. The most famous organic gems formed by animals are pearls and precious coral, while the most famous plant varieties are amber and jet.

One the most alluring and exotic of the organic gems would have to be black or Tahitian pearls. Black South Sea pearls are formed courtesy of a mollusc known to scientists as pinctada margaritifera orblack-lipped pearl oyster to us. The particular variety of these oysters which can produce the iridescent nacre black pearls are famous for, are concentrated in the waters around French Polynesia. These waters produce 93-95% of the gem-quality black pearls on the market. They are commonly named Tahitian pearls, as Tahiti is situated near the islands where these gorgeous pearls are cultivated.

The black pearls on the market today are nearly all cultured, which means that the pearls do not form randomly by chance due to the processes of nature, but are farmed by man. The naturally generated spat, or immature oysters, are collected on artificial spat collectors that are strategically positioned in lagoons or the open sea. The juveniles are granted three years to develop before they are ready to be implanted with a mother of pearl bead. Once implanted, the oyster will cover the bead with its own nacre creating concentric layers that give the pearls their beautiful, iridescent pearly lustre. After about 12-14 months, the pearls are ready for harvesting. Out of 100 oysters, only around6 will be round or semi round, 20 will be semi baroque and 11 will be full baroques. The remainder will be unsaleable or the oyster wasn’t able to yield a pearl. You can see fromthese statistics howprecious and rare theperfectly round black pearl is!

Black pearls are diverse in colour, ranging from silvery grey to charcoal with under- and overtones of silver, gold, pink, green and blue. Some black pearls are known as peacocks and you can see greens, blues, pinks and golds swirling together in an iridescent fashion. The lustre of pearl is known as pearly and the sheen as orient of pearl; the lustre is the result of how light reflects off the pearl while the sheen is due to the diffraction of light through the incredibly fine layers of nacre which creates iridescence.

When selecting pearls it's good to keep the following tips in mind. The first is to look at the lustre. Ideally when you look at the pearl you need to see yourself reflected back as if looking into a mirror. The more sharply you can see yourself, the better the lustre. If you appear faint and fuzzy, the lustre is poor. Next is to appraise the orient. If you can see undertones of iridescent colours, the pearl is of good quality. If the pearl appears as a flat colour, the sheen is poor. Next is to look for any blemishes. Naturally, if the pearl is free from any pits or circular rings and the nacre is nice and smooth, it's good quality. Finally, look at the shape a perfectly round pearl is the most desirable - unless you prefer the baroque look.

We have just created these spectacular grey pearl earrings named Tahiti,with lovely round silver-grey pearls juxtaposed with square cut teal tourmalines,in a very contemporary setting in 18k white gold. The combination of mineral and organic gems creates a sophisticated look that's a far cry from your grandmother's classic pearl studs.

Zircon - The Unsung Hero of Gems

“Star light, Star bright, First star I see tonight.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the legendary gem buyer for Tiffany & Co., George Frederik Kunz, attempted to come up with an appealing name for a very beautiful, brilliant gem with the rather ugly name of zircon. He decided because of the stone's vibrant optical properties that Starlight would be a suitable moniker that would hopefully catch on in the jewellery trade. Unfortunately, it didn't, and zircon was stuck with its unattractive name. Tiffany & Co. had much better success later in the 1960s renaming the purple/blue variety of zoisite as Tanzanite.

To make matters worse for poor zircon, it was used as a diamond substitute during the 1950's and 60's to be then superseded by the synthetic gemstone named Cubic Zirconia in the 1970's and synthetic moissanite in the late 1990's. Not only was zircon considered a poor man's diamond it was also thought to be synthetic due to the similarity in name to cubic zirconia. Both gems contain zirconium in their formulas: zircon is a naturally occurring zirconium silicate while cubic zirconia is a laboratory created form of zirconium dioxide.

Luckily for gem lovers and collectors, zircon is now finally receiving the admiration it truly deserves. It comes in a wide range of colours including green, blue, colourless, orange, yellow, red, brown and black. Some zircons have a fabulous pinky-brown colour that is very feminine and appealing. Zircon has high dispersion, which means it splits white light into its spectral colours in a similar fashion to diamond, resulting in rainbow-ike flashes. It also has a very high lustre, known as sub-adamantine, which also resembles the lustre of diamond. It has reasonably good hardness at 7.5 on the Mohs scale so it's suitable for ring settings however it has a brittle tenacity (poor ability to absorb shock) so bezel settings are highly suitable if a zircon ring is to be worn frequently.

World sources include Cambodia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, China and Australia. Zircon is the oldest mineral on earth, dating back to 4.4 billion years. Australia is the world leader in zircon mining and the most famous Australian deposit is at Mud Tank Zircon Field in the Harts Range area, Northern Territory. The gem quality zircons found in this location reflect the earthy colours of the landscape and come in golds, Champagnes, pinks, plums, sherry colours and browns. They can be heat treated to become colourless but will not turn blue like the material found in Kampuchea.

The lore surrounding zircon from the Medieval period is that it promoted a good night's sleep, brought prosperity and enhanced honour and wisdom in its owner. The modern take on the metaphysical properties of zircon is that it grounds one and will work with the chakras to reactivate sluggish energy and will assist you to achieve your aims. A handy stone to have on board!

We at Lizunovahope that you enjoy discovering the delightful properties of zircon and that it will be become part of your jewellery collection. If you would like to view a selection of these sparkling wonders please contact us for an appointment.

Photo Credit: gia.edu

Rhodolite Garnet, the Wine coloured gem.

Soft and velvety like a fine Bordeaux, Rhodolite garnets are a great choice if you desire a rich red gem with great clarity and good fire and an appealing price. So many rubies on the market today are colour and clarity enhanced and can often be glass filled or at least heat treated. Moreover, there are many clever synthetics on the market which can easily deceive the untrained eye. The great thing about Rhodolites is that they are treatment free and have very few inclusions. Their gorgeous raspberry through to rose un heat-treated colour can have some violet overtones and they are not as dark as the classic Almandine garnets so are often mistaken for rubellite tourmaline or rubies. Rhodolite was named after the pink rhododendron flower that is native to North Carolina, where it was first discovered in 1890 by the mineralogist William Earl Hidden. Rhodolites are a cross between two of the major garnet family varieties: Pyrope and Alamndine. As they can chemically exchange some elements on an atomic level the garnet family is full of hybrids and Rhodolite is one of these exotic blends. If you love the look of ruby yet not the price tag, then rhodolite garnet is a great alternative. We can source stones of all shapes and carat weight and would be delighted to create your perfect bespoke garnet piece.

Back in Black: Zirconium Rings for Men

The latest trend in men's wedding bands and dress rings is sleek and versatile zirconium.

Zirconium is a lustrous grey-white metal that has some resemblance to titanium and hafnium. It is extremely durable and resistant to corrosion. It is employed in many chemical industries to contain or transport chemicals. As it is so chemically stable and tough, it is also used to build nuclear reactors! Another one of its amazing attributes is that it's non-toxic and is perfect for people with allergies and skin sensitivities to wear. Because of its non-toxicity it's also used in dentistry for fillings a true wonder metal!

Zirconium is now a super-hot choice for men to wear as wedding bands or dress rings as black is always at the height of fashion. It has a light heft similar to titanium and when oxidised at high temperatures it turns black from its original grey-white colour and has a ceramic like feel. Zirconium bands will appear at their blackest with a high polish and will look a graphite grey colour when given a satin finish. No matter what the finish, the ideal quality of zirconium is that it's corrosion and scratch resistant which makes it perfect for gentlemen who work in heavy industry or trades.

Another winning quality of zirconium is that it is more malleable and ductile than titanium which means it can be fashioned into more interesting designs as it's easier to work with. It can be finished with decorative scrolls or Roman numerals and can also be set with diamonds if desired.

Zirconium is easy to care for and the best way to clean your ring at home is to soak it in some warm water with a mild soapy detergent, then thoroughly rinse in fresh water and finally polish with a cloth. Please keep in mind that despite being scratch resistant zirconium is not infallible and will show some wear and tear over time.

We currently have a stunning new range of men's zirconium, and zirconium with white, yellow or rose gold rings in our jewellery boutique, in the heart of Sydney's CBD. We invite you to come and have a look so we can assist you in choosing the perfect ring for a gift or wedding ceremony.

Traditional Birthstones and their Alternatives

For thousands of years gemstones have held a special fascination for humankind. Prehistoric man decorated himself with shells, bones, feathers and sometimes gems in their raw state. The Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians were very sophisticated civilizations that were able to cut and polish gems and fashion them into incredibly intricate jewellery that rivals our modern jewels and still is a source of inspiration.

Historians believe that the concept of birthstones or a particular gem being allocated to each month relates back to Biblical times when the high priest of the Israelites wore the sacred priestly breastplate. This intricate breastplate was adorned with twelve gemstones set in four rows of three gems that were engraved and woven into the fabric of the plate. Twelve different minerals were selected, each one representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Scholars argue which minerals were used and it's theorised that they were mostly ornamental stones of lower hardness as they were all engraved.

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Over the years the tradition was modified for an allocated gemstone to represent each month. Here we will explore which gemstone classically represents each calendar month and some more modern alternatives as we may not favour our particular assigned birthstone.

JANUARY

The gemstone assigned to January is garnet. This will displease many as most people believe garnets to be rather dull, dark red gems of little value and beauty. In reality, the garnet family is vast and diverse and garnets come in nearly all colours except a true blue. There exceptionally rare garnets that display colour change from teal green to reddish steroidi anabolizzanti prima e dopo purple and others that display asterism (a mostly four-rayed star) or chatoyancy (a cats-eye effect). Garnets were believed to protect warriors in battle and protect against wounds in both Native American Indian cultures and during the Mediaeval period in Europe. However, if garnets just don’t appeal, other birthstones that represent January are rose quartz, emerald (according to Tibetan astrology) and yellow or blue sapphire (according to jyotish astrology.)

FEBRUARY

February is assigned the beautiful purple quartz known as amethyst. Some will be disappointed thinking that amethyst is cheap and abundant unlike ruby or emerald. However, in past times, amethyst was a very rare gem that was highly valued in a similar fashion to ruby, emerald and sapphire. Purple was the colour of royalty and higher consciousness and can be found set into crown and religious jewels. The ancient Greeks associated amethyst with wine and believed that wearing the gem prevented drunkenness. When the vast deposits of amethyst were discovered in Brazil by German settlers during the 19th century, the gem sadly lost its value (although on the bright-side it's beautiful and affordable!!) Bloodstone is an alternative gem which is very masculine and great for signet rings. If you are an Aquarian ruled by Saturn you can select blue sapphire as your birthstone according to jyotish astrology.

MARCH

The gemstone associated with March is the highly attractive pale blue- green gemstone known as aquamarine. This beautiful gem reflects the colours of shallow ocean water and is part of the beryl family, which also includes emerald. Aquamarine can be a very pale soft blue or a richer sky blue. The most prized aquamarines have a natural, saturated blue green colour such as the famous stones mined from Santa Maria, Minas Gerais in Brazil. During Medieval times people believed that aquamarine protected couples in love no wonder that it's such a popular choice for alternative engagement rings these days. Aquamarine was meant to protect sailors on the high seas and it was even believed that mermaids kept them hidden in their secret treasure troves. However, if you don't like aquamarine you can choose from jasper or jade (great choices for men!). According to jyotish astrology those in early March can choose blue sapphire and yellow sapphire for the second half of the month.

APRIL

If you are born in April you'll be delighted to know that your assigned birthstone is diamond. Few people would be upset by this choice as diamond remains the Western world's most prized gem. Diamond fully deserves its reputation as the king of gems, with a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale, its powerful dispersion and good tenacity, it is hard wearing and perfect for ring settings. You may be surprised to know that diamonds come in all the colours of the rainbow, not just colourless stones. Some diamonds are blue due to traces of boron in the crystal lattice while others are yellow due to nitrogen. The famous and highly prized pink diamonds from the Argyle mines in Australia are theorised to be coloured due to enormous pressures that cause disruption in the crystal lattice as the gems are pushed up from the Earth's mantle. If you don't like bling or would like an interesting alternative gem, you could try opal according to Tibetan traditions or precious red coral according to jyotish astrology.

MAY

The month of May is emerald month. Emeralds have been highly prized by man since the time of Cleopatra and her famous emerald mines. These rare gems have been coveted by royalty for centuries. Emeralds became all the rage when the conquistadores invaded the New World during the 1500’s and started pirating the mines at Muzo in Colombia. These emeralds were of much higher quality than the Ancient Egyptian material as they were rich in the transition element, Chromium, and were a rich vibrant, velvety green. At first the invaders believed the gems to be harder than diamonds and many were smashed by anvils as they being tested. Green is the colour of the heart chakra and is thought to represent love. Emerald was a popular choice for engagement rings before diamonds took off in the 20th C: Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with an emerald set snake design ring upon their engagement in 1840. Not everyone likes the colour green, so alternative birthstones are rich orange carnelian or diamond (Jyotish astrology).

JUNE

Those born in June have pearls, the most prized of the organic gemstones, as their birthstone. Organic gemstones are created by animals such as molluscs and coral polyps or by plants substances that have gone through processes of carbonization (jet) or petrification (amber). Pearls have been prized by man since antiquity and until the 20th C were exceedingly rare as the molluscs take years to produce a pearl and this would be due to the unlikely chance of a parasite entering the animal's outer shell. Divers would be very lucky to find them. These days, nearly all pearls on the market are cultured and farmed by man which means they are accessible to most people. Australia produces the most magnificent silver to white South Sea pearls which are the best in the world. Pearls have a unique luminescent lustre that has often been likened to the light of the moon  thus they are strongly associated with the feminine. Not all pearls are white: there are beautiful golds, greys, blacks and iridescent peacock greens to choose from. If pearls are too feminine or don't suit you alternative birthstones are: alexandrite  the incredibly rare chrysoberyl which changes colour in different light sources as well as chalcedony and agates which are more masculine choices.

JULY

Those born in July are allocated the most passionate and sexy gemstone, ruby. Ruby has always symbolised passion and love and has been associated with blood our life force. In Sanskrit ruby is known as ratnaraj or king of precious stones. The Hindus believed if they offered fine quality rubies to the God, Krishna, they would be granted a position as Emperor in their next incarnation. Rubies became associated with love, passion and wealth in Western cultures during the Middle Ages. Few people realise that ruby is part of the Corundum family and her sibling is sapphire (which comes in all colours of the rainbow.) Ruby is basically aluminium oxide that has been coloured red by Chromium. The chromium imparts ruby with a fire like glow that can look almost neon in sunlight. The most famous rubies are from Mogok in Myanmar, formally known as Burma. Alternative birthstones are Carnelian and onyx which are more affordable and suit both sexes. In jyotish astrology the allocated birthstone is pearl.

AUGUST

Many born in August dislike their allocated birthstone, the pretty green gem named peridot, which seems a shame as it has a long interesting history and gem quality material has even been found in meteorites! Peridot is from the Olivine family of minerals and has been associated with light. It was venerated by the Ancient Egyptians who named it gem of the sun. This is perhaps why it has been allocated to August and is associated with the Western astrological sign, Leo, whose ruling planet is the Sun. Peridot owes its verdant green colour to iron and during history was often mistaken for emerald. It's theorised that the emeralds from Cleopatra's mines may have been peridot. Peridot was believed to guard against curses and enchantments and that its powers were at their full potency when set into yellow gold. Many people don't like to wear the colour green however there are plenty of alternatives to choose from. The Hindus have ruby as the birthstone for August and other choices are onyx and sardonyx. If you believe in Guardian angels you can choose diamond, which represents the angel, Humatiel who is assigned to August.

SEPTEMBER

September is sapphire month so if you are a September birthday you get to wear one of the world's favourite gems as your birthstone. Most people know sapphire as a mid to dark blue gemstone however sapphires come in all different colours except for red (red corundum is known as ruby!). Sapphires that come in colours beside blue are known as fancy sapphires and the most popular colours are pink, yellow and padparadscha, which is a unique orangey pink sapphire which hails from Sri Lanka and has been named after the lotus flower. Sapphires can display interesting phenomena such as asterism (usually as a six- pointed star however some sapphires can display twelve points), colour change (from blue to purple being the most common) and strong colour zoning (these are the parti sapphires which can be strongly banded or zoned in yellows, blues and greens.)

Traditionally sapphire has symbolised loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, nobility and truth  thus these precious gems have adorned the robes of royalty and the priesthood over the centuries. In ancient Greece and Rome it was thought that owning sapphires guarded one from envy and harm while during the Middle Ages sapphire came to symbolise the heavenly energies. During recent times The British Royal family has made blue sapphire a popular choice for engagement rings due to the popularity of Princess Diana and now the Duchess of Cambridge. As sapphire has a Mohs hardness of 9 it's incredibly durable and suitable for wearing in a ring setting everyday.

If you wanted an alternative to sapphire you could wear moonstone according to Ayurvedic traditions or Zircon according to the Hindu birthstone list.

OCTOBER

If your birthday falls in October then you are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting your birthstone. The two choices are opal and tourmaline  both of these gems are truly kaleidoscopic!

Opal is one of the rarest and most fascinating gems of all. Australia is blessed with 90% of the finest precious opal including the famous black opal from Lightening Ridge in NSW. Precious black opal has a black body colour and can sometimes display all the spectral colours when viewed from different positions. This kaleidoscopic effect is known as play of colour and is due to the diffraction of light through spheres of silica in the atomic lattice of the gem. Vivid greens and blues are the most common colours while flashes of red are the rarest. Some precious opals can display distinct patterns such as Harlequin and Chinese Writing.

Tourmaline is the rainbow gem that appears in a myriad of colours. Reds are known as Rubellite, teal blues as Indicolite and a stunning bi-coloured gem with distinct colour zones of pink and green as Watermelon tourmaline. Other colours are golds, browns, Blacks, greens, oranges and pinks. The most prized tourmalines of all are known as Paraiba tourmaline. These stunning gems are coloured with traces of copper which give them a neon blue through to blue green colour which is highly prized among collectors. Named after the Paraiba district in Brazil from where they are mined, they will knock you out with their beauty.

If neither tourmaline or opal appeals, you can choose beryl according to Italian traditions or coral according to the Hindu birthstone list.

NOVEMBER

November's birthstone choices are very versatile as they include topaz and the golden quartz called citrine. The topaz family of gems is incredibly versatile with the head of the family being Imperial Topaz. Imperial Topaz is a divine sherry coloured gem whose rich golden through to orange and pink colours are thought to resemble the setting sun. In 17th century Russia natural pink topazes were reserved solely for the Tsars hence the name. They are the rarest and most expensive of the topaz family and the main sources are Ouro Preto in Brazil and the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Topaz also comes in a brilliant range of blues including a sky blue that is similar to aquamarine; a Swizz blue that is a dazzling electric blue and London Blue, which is an uber fashionable dark teal that goes with all colours. Most people love wearing the colour blue so it's a good choice if you are thinking of buying a gift for a November birthday

If you love yellows and golds, you could select citrine as your birthstone. This popular golden quartz is very affordable and is available in big carat weights perfect for statement cocktail rings. Citrine is found all over the world including Australia, however the most important world source is Brazil. Citrine is thought to be a gem that brings good fortune to business and is known as the Merchant's Stone so also a perfect gift choice that may bring abundance to the lucky recipient.

If none of those appeal you could consider red coral, carnelian or cat's-eye gems according to Hindu astrology. These three choices are also great for male jewellery pieces.

DECEMBER

If you have a birthstone in December here's hoping that you are keen on the colour blue! Traditionally the allocated birthstone for this month since the Middle Ages has been blue zircon. Zircon is a very under- appreciated natural gemstone that many people confuse with the synthetic gem, cubic zirconia. Zircons have amazing dispersion, which mean they can split up white light into its spectral colours in a similar fashion to diamond, hence they have a diamond-like sparkle. It was once thought that wearing blue zircon would promote spiritual growth and wisdom and would result in a peaceful existence. These electric sky blue gems look amazing set in 22ct yellow gold.

Turquoise is another December birthstone choice that is very popular with many people. Revered by many Ancient cultures, including the Egyptians, Persians and Aztecs, turquoise is believed to help communicate with the spirit world, promote healing and good fortune. The Native American Indians have used turquoise in their exquisite sterling silver jewellery for centuries, which is now extremely popular and collectible. The stunning bright blue ornamental gems look amazing in shiny sterling silver and really compliment summer clothing. Copper owes its intense sky blue colour to the transition element, copper.

A modern birthstone choice and one that rivals sapphire in the beauty stakes is tanzanite with its dazzling purple/blue pleochroism. The unique appeal of tanzanite was quickly marketed by Tiffany & Co. after being discovered by a Masai tribesman in 1967, in the Merelani district at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Once the bright blue crystals were tested and were diagnosed to be zoisite rather than corundum (sapphire), the named was changed to Tanzanite as zoisite didn't sound very enticing. Tanzanite has quickly become one of the world's most popular coloured gemstone choices and is often flawless in clarity.

If the colour blue just gets you down you could always try ruby according to Arabic and Hebrew birthstone traditions. Lapis Lazuli makes a nice choice for men as well as traditional turquoise.

November Birthstones: Topaz and Citrine

November's birthstone choices are very versatile as they include topazand the golden quartz called citrine. The topaz family of gems is incredibly versatile with the head of the family being Imperial Topaz. Imperial Topaz is a divine sherry coloured gem whose rich golden through to orange and pink colours are thought to resemble the setting sun. In 17th century Russia natural pink topazes were reserved solely for the Tsars hence the name. They are the rarest and most expensive of the topaz family and the main sources are Ouro Preto in Brazil and the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Topaz also comes in a brilliant range of blues including a sky blue that is similar to aquamarine; a Swizz blue that is a dazzling electric blue and London Blue, which is an uber fashionable dark teal that goes with all colours. Most people love wearing the colour blue so it's a good choice if you are thinking of buying a gift for a November birthday

If you love yellows and golds, you could select citrine as your birthstone. This popular golden quartz is very affordable and is available in big carat weights perfect for statement cocktail rings. Citrine is found all over the world including Australia, however the most important world source is Brazil. Citrine is thought to be a gem that brings good fortune to business and is known as the Merchant's Stone so also a perfect gift choice that may bring abundance to the lucky recipient.

If none of those appeal you could consider red coral, carnelian or cat's-eye gems according to Hindu astrology. These three choices are also great for male jewellery pieces.

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