Wednesday, February 23, 2011

March Birthstone: Fun Facts

Aquamarine is the modern birthstone for March, as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Other gemstones known to represent the month of March are Jade, Amethyst, Bloodstone, and Jasper. Aquamarine is suggested as a gem to give on the 16th and 19th wedding anniversaries.

Aquamarine comes from the beryl family and ranges in color from a nearly colorless pale blue to a bluish-green or teal. The rarest, and most valuable color found in Aquamarine is a deep blue color. It is a 7.5

to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, and gets its name from the Latin word meaning water and sea.

The most valuable aquamarine stones are mined in Brazil, but they are also known to come from Kenya and Nigeria. Most aquamarines in the market today are faceted, but when cut as a cabochon, the gem may display a cat’s eye effect known as asterism.

Aquamarines are often heat treated to change a lighter bluish-green or teal colored stone a pure blue. This heat treatment results in a permanent color change.

Since ancient times, aquamarines have been believed to empower the wearer with courage and happiness. It is said to increase intelligence and make one youthful. As a healing stone, it is said to be effective as a treatment for anxiety, and in the Middle Ages, it was thought that aquamarine would reduce the effect of poisons. Legend also says that sailors once wore aquamarines to keep them safe and to prevent seasickness.

February Birthstone Fun Facts

The birthstone for February is Amethyst, and it is also the zodiac stone for the constellation of Pisces. Throughout history Amethyst has been associated with spirituality, wisdom, sobriety, and security.

The name "amethyst" comes from the Greek and means "not drunken." According to legend, amethyst originated when Bacchus, the God of Wine, grew angry at mortals. He vowed the next mortal that crossed his path would be eaten by tigers. At that time, a beautiful young maiden named Amethyst was on her way to worship the Goddess Diana. Diana, knowing of Bacchus vow, turned Amethyst into a pillar of colorless quartz to protect her from the tigers. Bacchus, witnessing the miracle, repented and poured wine over Amethyst, staining her purple.

This legend and the connection to Bacchus led to the belief that drinking wine from a cup made of amethyst would prevent drunkenness, and later, that wearing amethyst would also prevent the wearer from becoming drunk or being poisoned. Amethyst is also considered as an aid to the brave because it was believed to protect soldiers in battle.

Amethyst is the purple variety of the mineral quartz and is a popular gemstone. Amethyst does not come in any other variety of colors like many gemstones do, but it does come in several different shades of purple. The darker colored stones are typically more valuable and expensive, but due to the stone’s widespread availability, amethyst is a relatively inexpensive gemstone.

However, amethyst is not the same everywhere. Different localities can produce a unique amethyst to that particular region or even to that particular mine. Experts can often identify the source mine that a particular amethyst came from. The key to this is the specimen's color, shape of crystal, inclusions, associations and

character of formation. The stone is most commonly mined in Brazil, Mexico, Africa, and some parts of the United States.