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Welcome to Gemondo's gemstone information page, where you can find all you need to know to make an informed gemstone jewellery purchase and a few fascinating titbits if you are generally interested in gemstone meanings, uses, history and lore. Direct from the mines to buying in vibrant local and foreign markets, Gemondo has a hand in every process that brings jewellery straight to you. This not only ensures high quality at great value, it also means we can share all the stories and know-how we have accumulated along the way.
Mohs Scale: 6.5 - 7
Countries of Origin: Brazil, Uruguay, Madagascar, USA, Mexico
Agate is a type of chalcedony and is a hard stone formed of silicon dioxide commonly occurring in forms of lava or volcanic rock. A hard stone with a glossy and opaque finish, the many kinds of agate gemstones all lend themselves to cabochon cuts and statement jewellery pieces. This gemstone is often banded, displaying many different coloured linear layers. Gemondo's agate collection at present is predominantly white and blue lace, with subtle stripes running through each stone.
Named after the mighty and enlivening Amazon river that flows through South America, amazonite is a kind of feldspar mineral much like iridescent moonstone and labradorite, that has been tinted blue and green by the presence of lead and water. Opaque in shades that vary from spearmint turquoise to pale greens with asymmetrical white daubs, amazonite is often cut en cabochon into rounded beads flaunting smooth veneers.
Thought once to be given as gifts by beautiful and powerful Amazonian women, unique amazonite was aptly named ‘Amazon stone’ and the ‘stone of courage’ by ancients. In crystal healing, amazonite can be used to dampen hostility and calm the body often through placement on the heart and throat chakras. Amazonite shows it is a stone representing natural forces to be both enamoured and reckoned with.
Mohs Scale: 2 - 3
Countries of Origin: Dominican Republic, Poland, Germany, Mexico, Russia
Amber, with its honey golden colours, is known as 'tiger's soul' by the Chinese due to its fierce and striking aesthetics. Often full of small and natural inclusions, each piece of amber is unique, occurring organically from ancient sap resin that has solidified over time.
Gemondo’s amber originates from a number of popular sources namely the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Germany and Poland where quality sources are rich.
Amber is usually carved into beautifully smooth cabochons and set into gold and sterling silver jewellery.
Mohs Scale: 7
Countries of Origin: Brazil, India, Namibia, Sri Lanka, United States, Uruguay, Zambia
This purple pleochroic stone, with many colours seen when light passes through it, is steeped in mysticism. Amethyst truly is an ancient stone with jewellery pieces dating back to 2000BC. Originating from the Greek ‘Amethustos’ meaning without inebriation, drinking cups would be carved from amethyst so that whilst entertaining wealthy hosts could remain sober, drinking only water, as the glass would give the impression of wine.
A symbol of royalty, piety and calm, a large stone is a feature of the British crown jewels and it is also said that St Valentine even wore a gold amethyst ring.
Amethyst is celebrated as the symbolic gemstone for seventeenth wedding anniversaries, the birthstone for February and the astrological sign Pisces in the zodiac calendar.
Mohs Scale: 7.5 - 8
Countries of Origin: Brazil, Australia, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, USA, Zambia
Aquamarine is from the beryl stone family. Allochromatic in nature it has a significant metal content, iron to be exact, that is responsible for tinting it with a vivid blue translucency.
Derived from the Latin ‘Aqua’ meaning water and ‘mare’ meaning sea, aquamarine has a longstanding relationship with the life force that is water. Historically, sailors were said to carry aquamarine on their vessels to stave off peril at sea.
Aquamarine can be affected by high heat and is sometimes heat treated to enhance its blue hues.
Mohs Scale: 6.5
Countries of Origin: Brazil, India, Uruguay, Italy
Carnelian, or cornelian as it is also known, is a member of the chalcedony family of gemstones. Iron oxide impurities are responsible for carnelian’s deep rouge array of colour. Carnelian acts as an umbrella term for related gemstones with varying red shades, from darker jasper to lighter sardonyx. Ancient folklore suggests cornelian was thought to heal physical wounds and impede bleeding.
Carnelian can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush to preserve its beauty and lustre.
Derived from the Latin “chalcedonius” this semi precious stone has long been celebrated for its milk-like pastel colours, silky lustre and translucent appearance.
As one of the oldest gemstones known to man, this stone has been thought to deter illness. Chalcedony is also thought to heal different parts of the body and foster maternal instincts.
Vibrant and crisp apple-green chrysoprase is a kind of green chalcedony tinted by the presence of nickel. Derived from the Greek for ‘gold’ and ‘leek’ representative of its organic green hues, chrysoprase in jewellery is a rarely seen but much-loved natural gemstone.
Said to be worn by Alexander the Great in his many victorious battles, chrysoprase is thought to heighten consciousness and bring reward through triumph. As a healing gemstone it serves the heart chakra and is thought to spread happiness.
Mohs Scale: 7
Countries of Origin: Bolivia, Brazil, Spain
Sunny citrine is a vibrant yellow orange member of the quartz family. It is celebrated by jewellery designers for its hardness and resistance to scratches. The name is derived from the French for lemon, albeit slightly more orange than the colour of our favourite citric fruit.
Thought to omit positive energies it has been claimed that citrine can alleviate depression and self-doubt, much like the sun’s healing rays are thought to counter such mood changes.
Citrine is celebrated by some as the birthstone for November, along with topaz.
Mohs Scale: 10
Countries of Origin: Africa, Australia, India, Russia, Canada
Diamond is without a doubt the most popular gemstone in the world with more efforts invested in its mining and cutting than any other. Diamond is one existing structural form of carbon and is the hardest mineral on earth.
Admired for not only its strength but also its beauty, the name diamond is derived from the Greek ‘adamas’ meaning unbreakable. The Pink Star diamond currently holds the record for highest sale price at auction at £59m.
When buying diamonds over a certain weight, customers can consider the four Cs in diamond grading - colour, cut, clarity and carat. For more information on the four C's, head over to our diamond buying guide.
Mohs Scale: 6.5 - 7
Countries of Origin: Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Madagascar, Tanzania
Emerald is a kind of beryl stone and is uncommonly not celebrated for its clarity but for its vitreous lustre perceived as cloudy or waxy in appearance. Unlike other gemstones and with every emerald being so unique, a vibrant emerald rich in colour is far more sought after than a lacklustre stone with fewer inclusions.
The dedicated 'emerald cut' was specialised with the intention of bringing out the best in emerald stones and is now used on all kinds of gemstones from diamonds to sapphires. This cut showcases the gemstone's table, with a flat rectangular shape and facets along the crown.
Emeralds are only ever green in colour. Symbolic of new life and hope, the name originates from ‘smaragdus’ the Greek saying for green but is also a term synonymous with rich and lush landscapes. Famous fans of classic emeralds include Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth II (they frequent the British Crown Jewels) and more recently we are seeing celebrities like Beyonce, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie adorn this vibrant green gemstone in contemporary styles.
Emerald is the birthstone for May and is used to celebrate 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. Cancerians born between 22nd June and 22nd July also hail the emerald as their symbolic zodiac gemstone.
Mohs Scale: 6.5 - 7.5
Countries of Origin: Mozambique, India, Thailand
Garnet is an isomorphic stone, identical in crystal structure but varying in chemical content that is responsible for its occurrence in many colours from the commonly associated red to green, black and purple. Garnet’s name finds its roots in the Greek ‘granatus’ meaning pomegranate, representing both the aesthetic qualities of the fruit’s deep red colour and granular shape of the seeds. Many different sources reference garnet’s affinity with femininity with some believing they should only be worn by women. The healing stone is also said to protect the wearer from nightmares, bring success in business and boost confidence. Garnet is celebrated as the symbolic gemstone for second wedding anniversaries, the birthstone for January and the astrological sign Aquarius in the zodiac calendar.
Mohs Scale: 7 - 7.5
Countries of Origin: Brazil, Sri Lanka, India, Namibia, Madagascar, Norway, Tanzania, Africa
The name Iolite comes from the Greek "ion" meaning "violet flower" and has many connections to Viking folklore. It was said that iolite helped explorers navigate the sea, with its many shades displaying when ships would turn in a certain way. The gemstone is renowned for this pleochroism, where different colours can be seen from different directions. Due to their nature, iolite cannot be treated with heat and so you can be sure that every facet incurs a vibrancy and brilliance that is totally natural. When caring for your iolite jewellery, a little soapy water is all it needs to keep it looking beautifully bright.
Iolite is mined in a few locations around the world and much of Gemondo iolite comes from Norway, Sri Lanka and Brazil.
Mohs Scale: 6.5 - 7
Countries of Origin: Russia, Guatemala, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, China
Jade is a glass-like, cloudy and versatile with vitreous lustre making it ideal for cabochon cuts and carving shapely designs. Jade is the overarching name for two separate types of rock of similar disposition; nephrite and jadeite.
Jade has famously been coveted in parts of Asia and Australasia where ceremonial sculptures and statues as well as jewels and heirlooms have been documented and exhibited.
Jade can be found in many colours, verging from pale greens and blues to lavender and pastel pinks. Given its beautifully soft spectrum it’s no wonder that jade has been used throughout the ages to attract love. Green jade has long been used as a symbol of luck with money and also guard the wearer from misfortune.
Mohs Scale: 6 - 6.5
Countries of Origin: Australia, Madagascar, USA
Labradorite, the grey stone with its colourful flashes flaunts brilliant labradorescence, the term coined to describe the iridescence that can be seen when light passes through it. Often parallelled with the beauty of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis as they are also known, the green and blue gleams of labradorite and spectrolite mark this stone as a unique and unusual feature in any jewellery piece but also a spectacle of nature.
Gemondo's labradorite gemstones have been cut en cabochon to showcase the best of each gemstone's labradorescence in smooth round, pear and oval shapes.
Mohs Scale: 5 - 5.5
Countries of Origin: Chile, Russia, Afghanistan
A gemstone so vibrant it was once ground up and used to tint only the finest focal points in Renaissance paintings, lapis lazuli is a rich deep blue semi-precious gemstone daubed with golden pyrite freckles. Much loved not just in painting and semi-precious jewellery, lapis lazuli has also been used to create ornaments and even decorate ancient Egyptian tombs and statues. Perfect for carving, Gemondo’s lapis lazuli gemstones are cut en cabochon into smooth rounded shapes or checkerboard cut to glisten in motion.
Gemondo's full selection of lapis lazuli jewellery can be seen here.
Mohs Scale: 3.5 - 4
Countries of Origin: USA, Australia, Russia, Zaire
Malachite, with its vivid green linear curvatures, had once been said to ward off evil forces and black magic. Derived from “molochites” or mallow in Greek, it is named after a green herb reflective of its natural and fertile appearance. Of fibrous lustre, malachite is often carved into beautiful cabochons to flaunt its dark forest and lush green stripes and spherical patterns.
Malachite can be sensitive to acidic conditions, so ensure care when wearing to preserve its lustre and gently polish to enhance its shine.
Mohs Scale: 6 - 6.5
Country of Origin: Austria, USA, Spain, England, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Peru, Bolivia
Marcasite, in the jewellery sense of the word, is actually iron pyrite as marcasite itself is too brittle alone for the durability required of a piece. This jewellery marcasite is sometimes called ‘fool’s gold’ given its heavily metallic appearance. Marcasite of this kind also offers a kind of iridescence, explaining its use as a more affordable diamond replacement that will still catch the light beautifully.
Much marcasite jewellery is Victorian-inspired as this was an era where marcasite was much adored. Vintage, antique, retro and art deco styles set with marcasite are now coveted by many looking for individual and unusual styles. Gemondo’s marcasite jewellery pieces are all lovingly hand set in sterling silver.
Our marcasite is sourced from all over the world, but mainly from the mountains of Switzerland, Austria and here in the UK.
Mohs Scale: 6.5
Country of Origin: Brazil, Madagascar, USA, Uruguay
Onyx is a member of the agate family and can occur with natural white banding, namely in red cornelian and brown sardonyx or it can be dyed black to produce dark and mysterious black onyx.
Onyx has been thought to dispel negative emotion and encourage intelligence and confidence. Gemondo’s onyx is sourced from mines in Brazil, Uruguay and the United States.
Mohs Scale: 5.5 - 6.5
Country of Origin: Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Peru
Opal has long been admired for its iridescent and kaleidoscopic qualities, shining through so many colours in any one solitary stone. It’s beautiful and unique sheen has been compared to that of burning fire and oil.
Throughout the ages, opal has been recognised as a rather special stone. Arabic legend has it that opal shot from the skies down to earth in lightning bolts. Ancient Greeks believed the stone would protect the wearers from any ailments and gave them foresight into the future. Other beliefs surrounding the stone include the ability to maintain life and to keep hair beautifully blonde.
Our opal is sourced from mines in Australia, Brazil and Mexico – each famed for different stone compositions.
Types of opal can range from white and black to fire opal stones. Once used by the Aztecs in religious rituals, fire opal is a vibrant orange-red colour and serves as the national stone of Mexico.
Opal is the symbolic birthstone for October
Mohs Scale: 2.5 - 4.5
Country of Origin: China, Japan, Australia
Unlike other gemstones more commonly mined from the earth, pearls are spherical calcium carbonate based gems grown inside shelled molluscs. Pearls are an exquisite reminder of nature’s inherent beauty, in particular that which is drawn from the aquatics. No two natural pearls will ever be the same and so much care and attention is taken in matching shapes in strings.
The orb-like shape and pale iridescence of pearls have made them synonymous with the moon. In some cultures it was said that pearls were ‘teardrops of the moon’ fallen from rain and placed in the heart of an oyster.
To avoid any unnecessary damage to the environment, Gemondo pearls are cultured, meaning they are grown and harvested for use in jewellery. They are still completely natural but do not require intrusion into the earth’s precious resources.
Pearls are the birthstone for June and have also accumulated a reputation for purity and innocence, often associated with weddings and bridal jewellery. Pearls are the birthstone for June and also represent Gemini's in the zodiac.
Mohs Scale: 6.5
Country of Origin: Pakistan, USA, China
Peridot, a derivative of the olivine mineral, boasts its beauty in a multitude of rich green shades, from olive yellow to deep dark forest hues. This stone is pleochroic in that many different tones of green can be seen when it is viewed from varying angles. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that remains loyal to its distinctive colour caused by the amount of iron in its composition.
Peridot is prominent in lava and surfaces as the result of natural volcanic reactions, pushing up the material from the depths of the earth. What makes this stone all the more intriguing is its relationship with otherworldly bodies. Peridot deposits have been found in meteorites and comet dust, marking it as a truly cosmic material. In Hawaii, the famous Mahana beach is laden with granular peridot, giving the impression of vast expanses of green sand. Other similar beaches have been seen in Norway and the Galapagos Islands.
The ancient Egyptians called peridot the “gem of the sun” and was thought to heal ailments and to scare away evil.
Peridot is the birthstone for August and is used to mark 16th wedding anniversaries. Virgos also use peridot as their symbolic zodiac gemstone.
Mohs Scale: 6.5 - 7
Country of Origin: Brazil, Madagascar, India, Namibia, Sri Lanka, United States, Uruguay, Zambia, Scotland, Switzerland, Korea
Quartz is one of the most abundant stones in the world but finding quartz suitable for use in jewellery means a lot of effort in selection and screening is invested in its search.
Deriving from the Greek “krustallos” meaning ice, many believe that it was named as such as quartz was thought to be ice that would not melt. Quartz is a family of stones in itself, with many semi-precious stones such as onyx, agate, jasper and chalcedony as its members. Quartz is also coveted in many colours, from romantic and floral rose and fresh mint quartz to a rich coffee-brown smokey quartz.
Mohs Scale: 7
Country of Origin: Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Tanzania
The Greeks called this gemstone 'rose' for its distinctive yet dark colour. Taking cues from both purple amethyst and red garnet, rhodolite combines both to exude femininity with a dark side.
Rhodolite's play of light is strong when expertly cut due to its highly refractive nature and superb clarity. Given its hardness and durability this stone is perfect to set in jewellery and needs only a gentle wash with water and a brief polish now and then to keep it looking at its best for years to come.
View our full selection of rhodolite garnet jewellery.
Mohs Scale: 9
Country of Origin: India, Africa, Asia
The ruby, much like the sapphire, is from the corundum mineral family and its beautiful rouge palette is a result of its chromium content. Rubies are incredibly special as they can have the highest worth of any other coloured gemstone per carat.
The ruby gets its name from the Latin “ruber” meaning red. We associate the colour red with all our most intense emotions, from passion to anger. This is very much how the ruby has been represented throughout the ages as a token of wealth, success and love.
Some of the most expensive rubies have been sourced from Burma, while Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar and Tanzania are also known for their ruby deposits. In terms of colours, rubies can range from pure red to princess pink and purple hues. And while pigeon-blood red remains the most expensive in terms of price matrix, all forms of this naturally occurring precious gemstone are popular.
Rubies are the birthstone for July and used to celebrate 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries. Capricorns also use the ruby to convey their star sign in the zodiac calendar. To keep your rubies looking luscious, simply soak in soapy water for a few minutes, no need to scrub but give it a gentle wipe to clean.
Mohs Scale: 9
Country of Origin: Thailand, Cambodia, Kashmir, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Montana, Tanzania
Sapphire is a type of corundum, a transparent mineral that produces colour when impurities occur in formation. It is famed for its beauty but also practical properties of resilience, strength and cutting ability. As such, synthetic sapphire reproductions have been used in scratch resistant windows and supermarket barcode scanners.
Sapphires can only be sourced from select parts of the world. Each location is renowned for a sapphire speciality and colour. For example, Sri Lanka (the apparent source of the Royal Ceylon sapphire) provides the light blue, red and pink cabochon and faceted stones. Untreated high-lustre yellow-orange Songea sapphires originate from Tanzania and deep dark-blue coloured sapphires are bartered for amongst the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s historic Chanthaburi gemstone market.
One of the sapphire's most elaborate claims to fame is the royal engagement ring, once adorned by Princess Diana and passed down to the fair hand of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. This is both a design and stone much loved by the public for its longstanding relationship with the British monarchy.
The sapphire is not only a firm favourite with us Brits. Many historical figures have made known their admiration for the wonderous gemstone and its potential healing and protecting abilities as well as its romantic allure. Helen of Troy, famed for her lure and beauty, was said to have owned a large star sapphire to symbolise her attraction. King Solomon also apparently enticed the Queen of Sheba’s affections by claiming to harness the seductive power of the stone.
Sapphire is the birthstone for those born in September and is used to mark 5th and 45th wedding anniversaires. The sapphire is also the zodiac gemstone for Taurus star signs.
Mohs Scale: 8
Country of Origin: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tanzania, Cambodia
This singly refractive gemstone boasts a variety of colours from dark blue to red and pinkish tones dependent on the presence of chromium and iron. Their crystal shape is also spiky and angular, thought to be the reason for its name deriving from the Latin 'spina' for thorn.
Spinels are often mistaken for rubies as their composition is hugely similar but there difference is mainly seen in the hardness of the stones, as measured on the Mohs scale. The most infamous slip up of this mismatch has to be the spinel mistakenly set into the British Imperial Crown jewels - the so-called Black Prince's Ruby.
Given spinel's hardness, it is extremely durable when set in jewellery. To keep it lustrous and beautiful over time, simply give it a soft brush with some warm water.
Mohs Scale: 6.5 - 7
Country of Origin: Tanzania
Near the dizzying heights of Mount Kilomanjaro in Tanzania (from which the stone is named) are the sites of the only commercially mined deposits of this precious stone. Discovered in 1967, tanzanite is hailed as one of the world’s newest gemstones. The stone is praised for its rarity and naturally brilliant blue tones. Tanzanite is a blue variety of the zoisite mineral and forms with organic hues ranging from violet purple to deep blue.Tanzanite is said to be a thousand times rarer than the diamond and with only a few known natural deposits in the world, is set to become even more precious and collectable. Tanzanite is one of the few coloured gemstones with an industry recognised grading system. Consumers can look for the four C’s more commonly associated with buying diamonds – colour, clarity, cut and carat weight. You can find these details on the product pages of our jewellery. The tanzanite we use has double or triple A grading.
Tanzanite is the ideal birthstone for December, along with turquoise, with its cool blue tones.
Mohs Scale: 8
Country of Origin: Brazil, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, USA
The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit word for heat, “tapas” and is also connected to the Greek island formally named “Topazios” from which a yellow stone (now known to be more of an olivine stone than a natural topaz) used to be mined. Topaz is allochromatic, meaning imperfections and impurities in their structure are the cause of their many respective colours. Topaz has been known to emerge in a colour scale of pinks, reds, purples to yellows and browns depending on these impurities and chromium levels.
Topaz was thought to enhance beauty, give its wearer longevity in life and reinforce with physical strength. The ancient Greeks even believed that topaz had the ability to make the wearer invisible.
Topaz can occur in an array of colours but the most common are its bright, tranluscent blues which occur usually with a little heat.
Topaz is the birthstone for November and also given as a love token on 4th and 23rd anniversaries. Sagittarius signs are also symbolised with topaz.
Mohs Scale: 7 - 7.5
Country of Origin: Namibia, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Brazil, Africa
Tourmaline stones are united by a common natural occurrence as long and slender structures often changing in colour from one end to the other. Ranging from vivid greens to orange and pinks, this gemstone offers not only stunning gradients but versatility. Interestingly, tourmaline can create a pyroelectric effect, meaning it can temporarily create a voltage with changes in temperature.
Given its many colours, it has been thought that tourmaline has many faces but its key attraction seems to be the power to strengthen bonds, whether friendly or romantic.
Mohs Scale: 5 - 6
Country of Origin: USA, China, Iran
The Gemmological Institute of America found that the name turquoise came from the French ‘pierre tourques’ meaning a stone originating from Turkey. This gives some inclination of where the Europeans first believed the stone to hail from in the thirteenth century. Turquoise goes back even further having been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt, with age-old beliefs of relieving ailments and protecting the wearer through adversity still ringing true with fans today.
Turquoise also holds strong denotations of Native American heritage. Interwoven through many traditional garments, turquoise held symbolic meaning and was said to give a true aim when hunting.
Gemondo uses natural turquoise from traditional American and Persian origins as deposits in these areas are rich. Some of our stones have been stabilized to increase durability and enhance colour but still hold all the natural stone to maintain its innate magnificence.
Turquoise, along with tanzanite, is a birthstone for December and is used to celebrate 11th wedding anniversaries.