As I wrote two previous articles, I'm well in to my pregnancy and have been thinking about eternity rings. This is part three in a series of three exploring birthstones- what they are, their meanings, and how they can be used in jewellery...
The corrundum family of gemstones incorporates rubies and sapphires. Commonly thought of as blue (the word actually comes from the latin 'sapphirus' meaning blue) sapphire actually comes in every colour of the rainbow. Combined with the fact that sapphires measure 9 on Moh's scale this makes them perfect for eternity rings, as no matter what your favourite colour is you can have it in your ring and know it will be relatively hard wearing.
The deep, rich blue seen in Kate Middleton's classic engagement ring is considered to be the highest quality of the blue tones. The colour comes from trace elements of titanium and the balance of this can make all the difference- too much and the stone becomes over pigmented so the light can't get through it, making it appear black rather than having the gorgeous fire that you look for in a high quality gem. Here at Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design we love to work with all of the shades of blue and often make the most of it by graduating several tones in one ring!
Of the other shades, I particularly love green sapphires. As with many other gems, they tend to be fairly pale in small sizes but what I love is that bigger stones sometimes look like they have little bits of moss caught in them. They have such a beautiful, natural quality. The colour comes from microscopic layers of blue and yellow, so the colour can also seem to shift when you see them from different angles.
It seems that with its many colours sapphire has many beliefs attached to it... Health, love, happiness... And the ability to kill spiders to name a few!
You can see some of our spider killing gemstones in our sapphire engagement ring page
October- tourmaline or opal
The name tourmaline actually comes from the Singhalese words 'tura mali' which translate to 'stone of mixed colours'. This pretty gem is mostly seen in greens, pinks and yellows but you can get bluer tones and black too. In large sizes you can get multiple colours in one stone- pink and green together makes watermelon tourmaline! The pinks look particularly pretty in rose gold and the greens in white metal, so you could consider using both colours of metal in your jewellery as well as both colours of stone!
Measuring 7-7.5 on Moh's scale, tourmalines are reasonably hard and more durable than other gems at the same level in the scale. They are not as pricy as a something like a sapphire or emerald in larger sizes, so if you're looking for a green gemstone you can often go for something with a bit more drama than you might otherwise expect.
It is said to bring insight and enlightenment and is particularly useful for creative people. Pink and green stones together are often used to balance the heart chakra, and are also thought to represent male/female balance.
Opals are gorgeous stones... I wasn't a huge fan of them when I started working at Harriet Kelsall's, they have grown on me enormously! In jewellery they are seen in two main varieties- white and black. White opal tends to have lots of bright yellow, green and pink lights on a white or translucent background, whilst black have richer cerulean blues and peacock greens.
They are very fragile so they need to be set in a protective setting, and worn with a bit of caution: they are soft so they are prone to being scratched. They also have a very high water content which means that if they dry out they lose their luminescence and will crack. Make sure that when you are getting dressed you put on perfume and hairspray first and let it dry before putting on opal jewellery as the alcohol content can dry the gemstone out. For the same reason, don't leave them on a sunny windowsill! They are safer in a pendant where they're not going to get quite so battered as they might in a ring (and why not have an eternity pendant instead of a ring anyway?!) but people have been wearing opal rings for centuries so as long as you are aware of their care needs don't let it stop you having the ring of your dreams.
Opals have been linked with bad luck in the past, but it is also associated with healing (particularly for the eyes) helping with depression and in the search for love.
The gorgeous rich oranges and yellows seen in citrine are evocative of autumnal leaves. Yellower stones look beautiful set in creamy 9ct white gold, and ones with more orange look great in rose gold... But if you want the setting of the stone to blend in as much as possible then yellow gold can be a good way to go. We've made some really pretty rings where just the setting is yellow gold and the band is white, which works particularly well if you would usually stick to white metals in your other jewellery.
Citrine is from the same family as amethyst- they are both quartz. (In fact, you can sometimes find amethyst and citrine together in one unusual gem, when it is known as ametrin!) Like other stones in the quartz family, citrine measures 7 on Moh's scale so although it's not the hardest wearing of the gems it's not something you need be overly worried about wearing. It is a lovely sparkly stone when it's kept clean, which is quick and easy to do with a soft toothbrush and some washing up liquid.
Perhaps because of the golden colour, citrine is reputed to improve your finances! It is also supposed to aid creativity and increase success and happiness.
December- topaz (among several others!)
There is still some debate as to where the name topaz came from. Some think it originates from a Sanskrit word, tapas, meaning fire, but others think it refers to the island of Topazos where a yellowish stone was found. It is now thought that the stone found on Topazos was actually peridot, but there has been much confusion over the years as at one point any yellow stone was called topaz! This has of course changed and it does now refer to this very specific gem rather than any other. In fact, in this country, topaz tends to be seen in some lovely blue tones, but is more naturally a pale yellow colour (similar to citrine) through oranges and pinks which would link it to its fiery name. It also comes in brown tones and even clear (known as 'white').
Topaz is a reasonably hard wearing stone which measures 8 on Moh's scale, meaning its a really good option in an eternity ring. If you like the idea of something with a random-looking scatter of stones then you can use the different tones of blue ( perhaps with white diamonds too!) to get a graduation of colour, or stick with just the topaz but use it in its different colours. It has a pretty sparkle which has a glassy feel to it- if you compare blue stones then it's a bit more subtle than the intense sparkle of a blue diamond but crisper than the watery quality of aquamarine. It also tends to be clearer than aquamarine which can have a slightly misty feel.
Topaz is linked with the imagination, good fortune and longevity. It is very important in healing and is referred to widely in African and Hindu lore.