Gemstone Education

Amethyst

Amethyst

Amethyst is typically found in the humid jungle interior of South America. It is a deep violet gemstone that has long been associated with wisdom and solemnity. It is also undoubtedly the most coveted and well-characterised member of the Quartz family. In its natural crystform it appears to protrude from Geodes like the stiff, colourful spikes of a porcupine. If you then scrutinise its surface, after it’s been meticulously transformed into a gem, it’s likely you’ll find a faint lavender centre fringed with dark purple. To say that Amethyst is steeped in history would be a gross understatement; the stone’s constituent materials can be traced as far back as the Neolithic period (4000BC). Since then it has become, as with most other gemstones, a refined symbol of royalty, doubling as a mark of piety and celibacy, having featured in rings worn by representatives of the Catholic Church throughout the Middle Ages.

Of course there is a long list of stories that’s been compiled over the years to help characterise this stone, although our favourite has to do with fusty lords pouring water into wine-coloured goblets made of Amethyst. Apparently they did this to disguise their water and make it seem as though they were involved in the revelry, while at the same time keeping a vigilant, sober eye on their guests. We have to admit it’s one of the most risible uses for a gemstone we’ve discovered hitherto.

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Aquamarine

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a stone of subtle beauty with an effusion so delicate it hits the eye like a blue-hued Diamond. The faint lustre is the result of a small amount of iron glinting from within the Aquamarine. A lot of wearers choose it because it reminds them of unspoilt fresh air, the value of which has become increasingly palpable, especially at a time when human-made miasma has spread across the countryside and whole cities hide behind paper masks.

The word 'Aquamarine' is taken from the Latin 'aqua' and 'marina', which means 'water' and 'sea'. Aside from being associated with the clean air Aquamarine has also benefited from its affinity with and resemblance to water. This oceanic stone is also known to possess a greenish glimmer, like gardens of coral hidden deep underwater. The darker and rarer strains of Aquamarine are considered to be a lot more valuable. Normally Aquamarine will seem colourless, especially if it's viewed by natural daylight, but this effect is actually a veil of trickery that can be lifted with the help of candlelight, which serves to uncover the stone's undisclosed clarity. This is why Aquamarine is also often called the 'evening stone.'

Citrine

Citrine

So far we've seen stones that seem to emulate the sky and the sea, but what about a stone reflecting the light that shines over all of these? What about a stone that recalls the sun itself?

It's often been said that Citrine effuses the golden warmth of a beam of sunlight; that within its faceted body it holds the faintly burning energy of a sunset. That much might be true, but it should also be noted that Citrine is a glassy, burning variety of quartz, the characteristics of which have been warped by mysticism. For example Citrine can supposedly increase a woman's fertility and endow a man with intelligence. It might sound to some like empty embellishment but we tend to think that stones as unique as this deserve a little poetic treatment.

Natural Citrine has mainly been sourced in Europe, from France and Spain. During the 1930s skilled agate cutters were known to facet Citrine with rotating sandstones and then ship them back home from the steamy climates of Brazil and Uruguay. It has also been located – although we're not quite sure how – on the wave-scarred Isle of Arran, Scotland. Presently a lot of the Citrine that's flowing through the market is still traceable to the tropics of Brazil, although more modern techniques are of course being used to fashion the stones. Structurally speaking Citrine is a malleable stone, without any cleavage issues, that comes in a wide array of vivid colours. For this reason it's perfectly suited for moulding into unusual shapes, which is why lapidarists are so keen to utilise its properties for bespoke jewellery.

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Emerald

Emerald

Famed for being the romancer's stone, Emerald is an ever-green gem of superlative clarity, despite the presence of various inclusions and clouds. Unable to dim Emerald's allure, these subtle impurities are taken as part of its appeal and aptly called the 'fingerprints of Mother Nature'. These are just a few of the quirks that make Emerald so unique, without which it would surely not be considered – with its lesser clarity and rarity – the 'king of the green gems'. Indeed the finest and most unique Emeralds are treasured worldwide and sometimes they even rival the valuation of Diamonds. With this in mind you should always take the time to inspect the velvety visage of the Emerald you buy; learn its hidden markings and inclusions and unravel its identity. Furthermore you should maintain and cherish your Emerald as if it was the only one in the world, because really it is, in as much as every single stone is unique.

Another thing that makes Emeralds so rare is the fact that they've only ever been found in green. It's fortunate that this just happens to be such an evocative colour, recalling a verdant forest canopy or a field of fresh grass. In fact many lovers of Emerald have likened its effusion to the earliest flourishes of spring, which has also led to it being used to signify new beginnings, growth and the wellspring of life.

Interestingly Emerald was favoured, long ago, by the Inca and Aztec tribes of the tropical Americas. It was then used as part of the regal dress for the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, supposedly granting them both wisdom and clairvoyance. In fact, the last of the Pharaohs, Queen Cleopatra, harboured such a love for Emeralds that the Romans even named a mine after her. There was also the visionary architect Shah Jahan (designer of the Taj Mahal) who wore Emerald pieces like talismans, emblazoned with his favourite lines of sacred text.

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Garnet

Garnet

Garnet is the term used to group a variety of closely-related silicate minerals. It's known for its vivacity and for an effusion often linked with the more fiery human emotions like passion and romance. The preferred colour of Garnet is a deep and moody shade of red. It's also known to appear in a kaleidoscopic array of other natural colours, all of which belong to the same six families with identical cubic crystal structures. In fact the variations in colour are caused by subtle nuances in their chemical compositions and physical structures. This creates the illusion that Garnet is a broad term used to refer to a wide range of differing minerals, but the truth is they are all intrinsically linked and chemically connected, much like the branches of a strong family tree.

So strong is the tree of Garnet that its roots snake deep into history and sprawl across the face of our ancient planet. One of the first discoveries of Garnet takes us way back to 3500BC, when it was found fixed to the necklace of a mummified Egyptian. It was also referred to in the Old Testament story of Noah and the flood and has benefited from countless other mentions in myths and fables, when its supposed powers of illumination and healing are always manifest. This connection between Garnet and the cultivation of ancient human society has created a certain mystique; a sense of which you might obtain when you look closely at a finished stone and allow yourself to fall into its amorphous swirls of colour. Therein you'll likely find pillars of claret, orange, green or yellow, wrapped in darker hues. Just know that whatever you find is probably not far from the effusions that enthralled our ancestors thousands of years ago.

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Opal

Opal

Unlike a lot of other gemstones that are only available in a few different colours, Opals have a chameleonic ability to display all the colours of the rainbow in a sudden glimmer. In fact the word Opal, meaning 'precious stone', refers to this unique firework display of internal colouration. There's a lot to be said for eyeing your Opal under changing light and watching the colours smash together with glittering bursts of iridescence.

Opals are one of those ancient minerals, the presence of which has been traced back to the Cretaceous Period, some 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. They are popular for the psychedelic hues of colour that play across their surface, often changing, relative to the angle of observation. The Opals we choose for our gems have a distinct crystal structure speckled with faint neon-coloured lights. At a glance they might sometimes look opaque, but a closer look closer will surely reveal a mist-cradled galaxy of body colour. There are several different varieties of Opal, but we have to say our favourite is the Fire Opal, with its blazing surface lustre. You'll also find a diverse array of stones capable of effusing every colour under the sun, from vibrant oranges and blues to sparkling greens and purples.

Opals are often uncovered in damp crops of rock near to hot springs or geysers. They also include a water element that redefines them as a soft precious stone and makes them susceptible to damage. That being said, though, QP Jewellers strive to find only the most durable and striking Opals for our jewellery collection.

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Pearl

Pearl

Pearls are the closest indication of nature's artistry and involvement in the jewellery industry. They are shrouded in mystery due, in part, to the inexplicable methods through which they are cultured. There are numerous explanations for why and how these spherical marvels come to be; some say they form when an oyster (or other mollusc) has to alleviate the irritation from a grain of sand. However this contradicts another theory that oysters are actually great domestic cleaners, capable of easily expelling such irritants. Others posit the idea that Pearls are seeded with a bead and grown by oysters. This would mean that molluscs deserve to be hailed as great lapidarists and gem collectors. Perhaps it would also ruin a rather poetic delusion, either way, we remain convinced that oysters deserve recognition, just like any other jewellery virtuoso whose brilliance has been propagated in this industry.

Of course there's much more to Pearls than the curious circumstances surrounding their birth. They're also one of the oldest and most precious gems known to man, owing to the assumption that they must've existed for as long as the molluscs have been making them. Pearls have been familiar to humans for thousands of years and, during those millennia, there have been numerous poetic descriptions of their crystal sheen. Perhaps the most auspicious of all these, though, was a comparison to the tears of crooning angels and beams of moonlight. Indeed it is the character of Pearls that makes them so popular and has also perpetuated their affinity with love, marriage and permanence. Nowhere is this character more evident than in the form of a flawless Pearl with no marks and an even surface. The lustre of such a pearl will effuse a soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light on the rounded layers of its nacre.

At QP Jewellers we use only the highest quality Pearls for our jewellery. You can tell this by their pearlescent glow and manifest iridescence when the light hits their surface.

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Peridot

Peridot

If you've walked in a forest after a heavy downpour, looked up at the leaves and noted their colour, it's likely you'll recognise Peridot's most common effusion. It's this leafy olive-oil colour that makes Peridot so appealing to so many different people. It's thereby quite fortunate that, like Emerald, this is the only colour Peridot can be found in. Couple this with the delicacy of the stone, which requires the angle of the facets on the pavilion to be exact, and it's easy to glean why this stone has become so popular. The original name for Peridot is Chrysolite, taken from the Ancient Greek word 'chrysolithos', meaning 'golden stone'. While that sounds like an ill-chosen name for an ever-green gemstone, it actually refers to a glint of gold that can be found deep within the body colour.

Amongst the first Peridots ever discovered by man were those that were uncovered by Egyptian miners on an island in the Red Sea. According to our historical records these lucky miners used to take the days off and wait until nightfall before they went to work. Supposedly they believed that this seemingly luminous green gem would be invisible in sunlight. They were also aware that Peridot could soak up the sun's rays, store its energy and then glow in the dark. This made it much easier for them to search at that time. Another story tells how, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, there were scattered grains of Peridot that were mixed into the sand of several beaches, making them glow at night. Perhaps influenced by this otherworldly effect, the Hawaiian's came to believe that Peridot was in fact made from the tears of their Fire Goddess, Pele.

One of the most fascinating things about Peridot is the fact that, in October 2003, NASA's Global Surveyor detected it in its basic form, 'olivine', in a shallow depression on the surface of Mars. The crater where this olivine was found was created, approximately 3.6 billion years ago, by the impact of a massive asteroid that smashed into Mars and inadvertently uncovered the treasure hidden beneath the surface. The implications of this discovery are quite staggering; it suggests that Peridot was, like us, born of a star and that its ancestry stretches high up into the night's sky, beyond the present limits of our imagination.

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Ruby

Ruby

Ruby and love have become somewhat synonymous since it was first discovered; nothing but a bleeding vein in a jagged crop of crystalline rock. Its distinctive colour evokes passion and lends a vibrant lustre to some of the most coveted pieces in the industry. Due, in part, to this unique allure, Ruby has often been associated with royalty and is commonly used to beautify coronation rings. In Sanskrit the Ruby is referred to as 'ratnaraj', which means 'the king of precious gems' and by some it was also considered a representation of the sun. The mystical properties of Ruby are centred on its ability to deliver luck to its wearer. By wearing it one is supposedly also awarded a greater share of courage and a heightened sense of romance.

Contrary to the widespread misconception that Rubies are always red, they do also often contain purplish or orange hues. Usually stones from Thailand will appear slightly discoloured, seeming to carry a brownish shadow, whereas rubies from Burma are known to effuse a purplish glint. The one thing you can count on, though, is that Rubies will always divulge their withheld light if you take them outside and view them by natural sunlight. For that reason Rubies are a perfect accessory for those elegant outdoor occasions when the sun is expected to shine.

At QP Jewellers we consider Rubies one of our favourite gemstones. We strive to use only the richest and most striking stones that immediately affirm its enduring reputation as the 'jewel of love'. We want to give you something of profound beauty; we want to give you something worthy of those significant moments in your life, especially your fortieth wedding anniversary, for which it is the traditionally chosen gemstone.

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Sapphire

Sapphire

Sapphires are widely regarded as a jewel of supreme elegance with a sophisticated edge that sets them apart from other stones. They recently benefited from a sudden updraft courtesy of the unknowable winds of style and fashion, having gained an auspicious association with the British royals. In fact there is an exquisite Sapphire piece that is kept at the heart of the royal family. Just last century Prince Charles proposed to Princess Diana with an enthralling Ceylon Blue Sapphire engagement ring. When Princess Diana tragically died this ring was then passed on to their eldest son Prince William, who gave it to Kate Middleton in 2010.

Sapphires are sourced from a number of exotic locations around the world, including Cambodia, China, Australia and Kashmir, but the most popular of these is the idyllic island of Sri Lanka, a far-flung paradise with such plentiful deposits of precious stones that it's also known as 'gem island'. Sri Lanka is to Sapphires what Burma is to Rubies; the most recognised and proficient provider of that gem. Indeed Sapphires taken from Sri Lanka are awarded the name 'Ceylon Sapphires', which reveals the origin of the stone presently being sported by the Duchess of Cambridge.

Another reason Sapphires have been prized and treasured so intently over the years is their ability to mimic the watercolours that enliven the sky. This beautiful gemstone is available in a range of hues, effusing all the subtle nuances and moods of the day, from the unclouded warmth of a midday sky to the pale melancholy of dusk. In ancient times Sapphire was regarded as a stone that could empower its wearer, conferring a kind of spiritual awakening and inner freedom. By the time of the Middle Ages Sapphire was then believed to possess medicinal qualities, as well as being an antidote to poison. As you've no doubt already gleaned Sapphire is one of the industries most valued gemstones, with a unique appearance and a rich history.

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Tanzanite

Tanzanite

Tanzanite is an exceptionally rare gemstone that was first discovered amidst the sparse foliage of the Mererani Hills in Northern Tanzania. Interestingly this discovery wasn't made by a group of Ancient Greek miners in some long forgotten century preserved in a short passage of writing. Instead the first crop of naturally occurring Tanzanite was found in 1967. What's perhaps even more interesting is the fact the whole deposit was crammed onto this lonesome five-square-mile hilltop in Tanzania, which is the only place on Earth where it's known to exist. In its rough state this young gem looks reddish brown (often it will undergo blue-violet inducing heat treatment in a gemmological oven), but when it's cut into a stone it acquires a palette of violet hues and other crystalline colours. It's also pleochroic and benefits from the fact its effusion transforms depending on the angle of observation. Perhaps the most popular of all the colours Tanzanite produces is a brilliant Sapphire blue tinted with a faint violet hue.

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Topaz

Topaz

Topaz is a silicate mineral of fluorine and aluminium renowned for its shining brilliance and crystalline clarity. Having benefited from a long and steady growth in popularity, Topaz has become a very widespread gem, favoured by buyers, owing, in part, to its variety of vivid body colours and hues, as well as its striking transparency. Topaz is also the birthstone for November and the traditional gift for both fourth and twenty-third year wedding anniversaries. Unlike the recent discovery of Tanzanite, yellow-hued Topaz was first mined over 2500 years ago and in the all years since then it has been prized as a natural treasure, so much so that it was included amongst the collection of gemstones that emblazoned the twelve holy gates of Jerusalem. History has been a good friend to Topaz, affirming its reputation as a mystical stone that perpetuates both love and fortune. Interestingly, in the 1100's, the wealthy wife of the Dutch Count Theodoric once gifted a huge Golden Topaz to a monastery. Supposedly this gem was so large and so brilliant that it illuminated the whole interior of the sanctuary, washing the prayer wheels and ornate panels in its otherworldly glow.

Topaz has featured in our jewellery designs for thousands of years and its many colours remain unchanged since the stones first appearances as the talismans of our earliest civilisations. Way back then our ancestors strove to define the inexplicable allure of Topaz; the Egyptians related the burning golden lustre to their Sun God, Ra, whereas the Portuguese called the colourless variety 'pingos D'agoa', meaning 'drops of water'. However none could quite encapsulate its essential beauty, as is evidenced by the differences between their various descriptions.

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