Zircon – Stone of the Month

One of the birthstones of December is zircon, a stone that comes in many colors but is most well known for its beautiful light blue color. Zircon has been known since the Middle Ages, with the oldest stones being over 4 billion years old. The origin of the name is not a hundred percent certain, however it is speculated to come from the Persian word “zargun”, meaning golden-colored.

Satellite Ring with Zircon

Satellite Ring with Zircon by Rebecca Zemans

Zircon is a mineral that belongs to the group of nesosilicates. In its purest form zircon is colorless, however it takes on different colors due to impurities or certain gemstone treatments. For example in Southeast Asia most zircons are brown but are made colorless or blue by being heat treated. The colorless zircons resemble diamonds, and are often used as a more affordable option. The stones have a hardness of 6.5 – 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a strong yet brittle stone. Most zircons have a brilliant or an emerald cut to bring out their fire and brilliance, however since it is so brittle and sensitive to knocks and pressure, it should be handled with a lot of care. Zircon is a very dense stone, making it look smaller compared to stones with a similar weight. They can be found all over the world, in places such as Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

Rough cut zircon

Rough cut zircon

Zircon is a stone of purity and innocence. It has been said to help balance emotions and and bring good luck. Zircon is also believed to have healing powers that can help you sleep and bring property and wisdom as well as help with varicose veins and blisters.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – tdr.ulrich

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Labradorite – Stone of the Month

The alternative birthstone for the month of November, and one of our favorites, is labradorite, also known as the colorful cousin of moonstone. With its beautiful play of color, specifically known as labradoresenece or schiller effect, this stone has mesmerized people many centuries before us. While Labradorite is an obvious stone to be used for jewelry, it has also been used in the production of glass, as a road building material and to increase the strength and durability of ceramics.

Labradorite has a predominant blue shimmer, however it comes in color variations of gray-green, dark gray, black and grayish-white. The stone is composed in aggregate layers that refract light creating beautiful shimmers in many different colors. Stones that show an unusual high degree of labradorescence are called spectrolite.

50982654_b430617f57These beautiful stones were first discovered around 1770 by missionaries who found and named the stone after the region in Canada known as Labrador. Today they can be found all over the world, mainly in the USA, South America and Norway. On the Mohs scale of hardness it rates a 6 – 6.5, making it a softer gemstone.

Considering its beautiful color and its magical shimmer it comes to no surprise that the labradorite has been used by many people for its healing powers. It has been said that the labradorite helps people who are going through changes, giving them strength and stability while raising consciousness and helping to reveal the truth.

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Fun Fact: Taking pictures of jewelry that features labradorite is not easy. It is hard to take a picture that does the shimmer and the uniqueness of these stones justice, especially since the color changes with every angle. Above are a few examples of pieces we’ve made using labradorite, you can check them out on our website here.

Because we love labradorite, we always keeps some that we pick out carefully in our inventory. If you are interested in creating a piece of custom labradorite jewelry, please don’t hesitate to contact us. It is best to see it in person, to be able to truly appreciate the beauty of the stone and let it inspire your design ideas 😉

Agate – Stone of the Month

Wow! It’s been a busy year becoming a new mom and keeping up with customers. I’m excited to pick up the blog where we left off…The alternative birthstone for the month of October is agate, a member of the quartz family. Agate is a variety of the chalcedony quartz, which forms in concentric layers in a wide variety of colors, textures and patterns. Because of that vast variety in colors and patterns, many agates have their own specific trade names such as carnelian or sardonyx. Agate forms by filling a cavity in a so called “host” rock, which is why agates often end up as a round nodule, with concentric bands all around them.

Agate was first discovered around the 3rd or 4th century BC, by a Greek philosopher called Theophrastus. He found the stones by the Achates River in Sicily, Italy and named them after the river. The river still exists today, however it has been renamed the Dirillo River. Nowadays agate can be found in many places all around the world, often close by volcanic rocks. As mentioned above, agate can come in many colors and patterns. In general, the stones with banding are called agate, while the ones with a more uniform color have specific names such as chalcedony, carnelian etc. Because of the banding, most agates will be multicolored, however uniform colored stones do occur. Often times the stones get dyed to create a more uniform color as well. Because Agates are often times found in very large sizes, they tend to be cut en cabochon to showcase their beauty and unique patterns.

Agates have been used for their healing properties for many centuries. People used to wear the stones close to them to protect themselves from nightmares, stress and fevers. Agate has also been said to give you strength and the will power to work through harder times and Persian magicians even believed that agates could help divert storms.

We’re excited to be introducing more agates and rough cut geodes into our collection this holiday season. Let us know if you want to stop by to see what we’ve been working on.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – bwmaddog21

Lapis Lazuli – Stone of the Month

The alternative birthstone for the month of September is the beautiful Lapis Lazuli, often referred to as the cousin of the turquoise. Because of its beautiful blue color it has often been ground to powder form and then used to create paint and make up.

Lapis Lazuli has been used in jewelry for thousands of years and got its name from the Latin word “lapis” which means stone and the Arabian word “azul” which means blue. Lapis is composed mainly out of lazurite and several other minerals, making it a rock rather than a mineral. It measures a 5 – 5.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a rather soft gemstone, prone to damage under heavy use.

labradoriteLapis Lazuli comes in several shades of blue, ranging from a purple blue to a green blue. The shade of blue depends on the amount of sulfur present in the stone. Generally, less calcite gives the stone a much lighter blue color, which is not as valuable as the darker stones. The most valuable stones have an evenly distributed (dark blue) color, while the less valuable ones tend to have several shades of blue in them. Some people enjoy the very even and pure color of the Lapis Lazuli, while others like the playful spots and freckles (due to the golden pyrite) similar to the turquoise.

Lapis Lazuli is an affordable stone, often cut as a cabochon and used for larger jewelry pieces such as a statement necklace or a cocktail ring. If you are interested in in a piece with a Lapis Lazuli, have a look at our website, where we offer several pieces with beautiful stones.

Lapis Lazuli has been mined in Afghanistan for many centuries, but can also be found in Canada, Italy and Pakistan. It is the official gemstone for the seventh and the ninth wedding anniversary and has been said to promote friendship, truth and total awareness. Some also believe that it can help with disorders of the throat, bone marrow and immune system.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – Orbital Joe

Jade – Stone of the Month

One of the birthstones for the month of August is jade, a stone often known for its intense green color. Jade has been known for more than 7000 years, and while one might assume it has mainly been used in ornaments, it started out as a very practical stone used for tools because of its extreme toughness.

Jade consists of two separate minerals known as jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is very tough and resistant because of its tight growth of tiny interlocking grains. Nephrite, a variety of the mineral actinolite, is even tougher, due to its composition of fibrous crystals inter-twinned in a tough compact mass. The mix of these two minerals makes jade the toughest gemstone in nature, and even though nephrite and jadeite are relatively easy to scratch and softer than diamond, their resistance to chipping is extremely high. Diamond is the hardest gemstone in nature but can be broken by a hard blow. As a matter of fact, Jade is even tougher than granite and more difficult to carve than steel, making it an ideal weapon.

Uncut Jade

Uncut Jade

Jade can come in many colors, ranging from a grey-green to the very sought after emerald green also known as “Imperial Jade”. The color of jade depends on the country it is from, as it has to do with the amount of chromium, iron and manganese in each stone. Most jades show blemishes and imperfections and only the finest stones show an evenly distributed color. However, in some cases the imperfections are not regarded as flaws rather than as very valuable patterns, sought after by many collectors.

Our Satellite Studs with beautiful Jades. Click here if you would like to buy them!

Our beautiful Satellite Studs with Jades. Click here if you would like to buy them!

Like most gemstones, jade comes with its fair share of mysterious believes and stories. For example Asians highly value jade because they believe its energy is closely related to the human body. It is common for them to give a jade piece that they used to wear a lot as a gift because they believe that the jade has become part of them and by giving it to a close friend or family member they are giving a part of themselves. Jade is also known to be the gemstone for the 35th wedding anniversary and has been said to help with kidney diseases.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – greyloch

Carnelian – Stone of the Month

Often known for it’s red-brown color, the alternative birthstone of July is the beautiful carnelian. Carnelian is a zodiac birthstone for the signs of Leo and Virgo and has been said to promote inner vitality and joy.

The carnelian is a commonly available microcrystalline quartz. It is considered a chalcedony, made up of silicon dioxide colored by different levels of iron impurities which makes them come in many warm colors ranging from a pale orange to a dark brown. Often, the stones have been heat treated to make their color more intense.

A close up of a beautiful fiery red carnelian.

A close up of a beautiful red carnelian.

This stone got its name from the Latin word cornum meaning claw or beak. The cornel cherry, found in Central Asia, is a fruit of similar coloring to the carnelian and has the same name root. It has a hardness of 6-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, similar to the chrysoprase. The best quality carnelians can be found in India, Brazil and Uruguay.

Our all-time favorite Luna necklace with a carnelian bead. Available on rebeccazemans.com !

The ever classic Luna necklace with a carnelian bead. Available on our website!

Like many other gemstones, carnelian has been known to have healing properties. Ancient Egyptians used to wear it close to their bodies to silence negative feelings such as hatred and jealousy. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead it says to place the stone in tombs as “magic armor” for life after death, a belief that was shared by several cultures. Carnelian has also been said to purify your blood, help with back pain and to increase creativity.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – Alex J Shepherd

Moonstone – Stone of the Month

One of the birthstones of June and one of our favorite gemstones to use is Moonstone. With its beautiful shimmer it has fascinated people for centuries continuing to be a very popular and elegant stone.

The moonstone got its name from the historian Pliny the Elder, who believed that the stone changed its appearance depending on the phases of the moon. Although a myth, people believed this until the 16th century. Today we know that beautiful shimmer to be adularescence, which happens when the light hits the stone. Moonstone is composed of orthoclase and albite, two minerals from the feldspar family, that during the rock formation process over millions of years separate into two thin layers. When these layers are hit by light, adularescence happens.

These beautiful stones can be found in many places, however the best place to find moonstones is Sri Lanka. The stones can come in many colors ranging from blue to a neutral champagne. However, with a hardness of only 6.5, the moonstone is a softer gemstone, prone to imperfections.

Moonstones have been adored for their mystic beauty, but are also known to bring good fortune. In India, the stone is considered sacred. The Romans believed that the stones were formed by the light of the moon and therefore associated them with their lunar gods and goddesses.

Moonstones are also said to help enhance the feminine energy and are known for helping to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety.