The birthstone for July is the carnelian, a form of chalcedony. It is usually offered as a brownish red coloured stone, but can range from pale apricot through bright orange to a darkish chestnut. It is found in Brazil, India and Uruguay, in forms translucent to opaque.
The chemical composition of carnelian is silicon dioxide, enhanced by iron to give it colour. It can be distinguished from reddish brown agates by the fact that the inclusions causing the opacity are cloudy and evenly distributed, and not organised into bands.
In the Granary Knits Etsy store, carnelians feature in a number of pieces of jewellery as part of a mixture or as standalone gemstones.
June‘s birthstone is the beautiful glowing moonstone.
Moonstone is part of the feldspar group of rock. it can be colourless, or pale yellow, with an internal sheen that is particularly lovely, like the shimmer of moonlight (hence its name). It is one of the potassium feldspars, with a chemical composition of potassium aluminium silicate. Deposits are found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Brazil, India, Madagascar and the USA.
In the Granary Knits Etsy store, we have both jewellery and stitch markers using a particularly lovely pale grey moonstone.
The birthstone for May is the Emerald, a type of beryl, available as both a precious and semi-precious stone. The precious gemstone emerald is a rich glowing transparent green, the deeper the colour (and the more transparent) the more highly prized the stone. So beautiful is the stone it has given its name to the particular shade of green.
Its chemical composition is aluminium beryllium silicate, the colouring agent for true emeralds is chrome (other green beryls are coloured with vanadium, and should not be called emerald, but instead “green beryl”). It is mined in Colombia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and many other countries around the world.
Semi-precious emeralds are clouded by inclusions, and may vary from pale to dark green. These are the type of emerald you will find in the Granary Knits Etsy store, in the form of earrings using selected shaded chips.
There are many large and well-known emeralds, mostly held in museums around the world, including the Natural History Museum in London, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.
April’s birthstone (in the precious stone range) is the diamond, but diamonds are not everyone’s cup of tea, nor within everyone’s budget. But you can give as a gift a lovely clear sparkly stone that is affordable and pretty without taking out a second mortgage: the rock crystal.
This macrocrystalline form of quartz is named crystal from the Greek word for ice, as it was believed that rock crystal was eternally frozen. It’s chemical composition is silicon dioxide, with no other chemical additions to give it colour. It is found all over the world, but the most important deposits can be found in Brazil, Madagascar, the USA and the Alps.
At Granary Knits, we have recently been adding some rock crystal items to the shop.
A single stitch marker, made from a rock crystal bead which has a lovely crackled interior, is available as both a knitting and a crochet marker.
A set of clear rock crystal marker are a welcome addition to the range of gemstone stitch marker sets currently in store. This set features five markers with three, four, or five crystal chips.
And finally, some smooth clear nuggets of rock crystal fashioned into beautiful earrings.
To celebrate the arrival of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, I have been designing some more spring-like stitch markers, and they are now available in store.
First, the Spring is Sprung set of knitting or crochet markers. This set of five features glistening golden beads, the colour of daffodils waving in a balmy breeze (currently here in West Yorkshire it is about +2 degrees Celsius, but I can dream!), and a lovely banded agate marker in the colour of purple crocuses. There are also plenty of charm markers – a sweet bird with a big heart, a cute rabbit peeking through his paws, a Tibetan silver flower bud about to open, and a graceful tulip.
Apart from the golden bead and bird charm, these markers are also available as single markers.
April will soon be here, and April’s birthstone is the lovely Rock Crystal. As well as a single marker and a set of markers, I have also added a pretty pair of rock crystal nugget earrings. Beautifully polished and light-catching, these earrings are just perfect as a birthday gift.
Finally, a new line in Jewellery for your Knitting and Crochet – stitch marker holders. I do send a small free cloth bag with each order, to keep your markers safe, but a clip to hold them all together is a welcome addition to my range. I shall be adding to the designs over the coming months, but my first two holders have been listed today and feature either a large feather charm or a large heart with a cutout pawprint. I am always on the lookout for larger charms as they are ideal for stitch holders, so watch out for future shop announcements!
February’s birthstone is Amethyst, a beautiful richly coloured transparent to semi-transparent gemstone, ranging in hue from pale lilac to deep purple grape. It is the most highly valued stone in the quartz group, the most important deposits being found in Brazil. Silicon dioxide is its basic composition, coloured by traces of manganese, titanium and iron. Its name means not drunken in Greek, and was worn as an amulet against drunkenness.
I use amethyst in a number of pieces of jewellery; plain individual colours as shown in the photographs above, as well as mixed with other gemstones and glass beads to give a rich texture and colour to unique earrings and bracelets. To see my full range of Amethyst jewellery and stitch markers, please go to the Granary Knits Etsy shop.
Garnet is the birthstone of January, and what a glorious colour it is. Rich burgundy red, with a deep shine; garnets are like little nuggets of warmth.
Garnet is actually a group of stones with a similar crystalline structure – rounded crystals – and colour, a reddish brown. The name derives from the Latin for grain, granum, because of the rounded crystal structure and because of the similarity to pomegranate kernels. The basic chemical composition is aluminium silicate, and the gemstones within the group – pyrope, almandite, and spessartite – each has a different chemical addition which gives it its different colour. So pyrope is magnesium aluminium silicate and is red with a brown tint; this is the type most commonly sold as garnet. Almandite is iron aluminium silicate and is red with a violet tint; and spessartite is manganese aluminium silicate and ranges in colour from orange to red-brown.
Turquoise is one of those colours that just about everyone loves, and the gemstone Turquoise does not disappoint in the rich variety of its shades of light bluey-green. It is the birthstone of December, bringing colour and light to the dark months of the year.
The chemical composition is aluminium silicate which also contains copper, although the turquoise found in North America actually contains iron rather than aluminium; the latter tends to have dark veining.
Two types of Turquoise are commonly available: African and Chinese, although the stone is mined in many places around the world. African Turquoise tends to be a darker blue/green than Chinese, with darker threading throughout. Both types take polish well and gleam and glitter in jewellery.
Turquoise has featured in jewellery for thousands of years; it was used by the ancient Egyptians and Aztecs in jewellery and as a decorative stone; King Tutankhamen’s burial mask and tomb was inlaid with turquoise as the stone was a symbol of regeneration; the Mesoamericans created turquoise mosaics; the Chinese carved turquoise into ornaments; it was used by Native Americans in works of art and jewellery; the Tibetans believe in its healing properties and have valued turquoise jewellery for centuries.
Tourmaline is the birthstone of October. The name is derived from Sinhalese, Turamali (meaning stone of many colours); it was mined in Sri Lanka for centuries, but first imported into Europe by the Dutch in the early 18th century.
Tourmaline is actually a group of gemstones, rather than a specific single stone (like lapis lazuli or peridot), and depending upon its colour its name can vary, from Achroite (colourless) to Verdelite (green). The chemical composition distinguishes the different forms of tourmaline; so Dravite is named after deposits found near the river Drave in Austria/Carinthia and contains magnesium; Elbaite is named after the island of Elba in Italy and contains lithium; and Tsilaisite is a local Madagascan name and contains manganese.
Tourmaline is found in a huge range of colours and is usually sold in mixed strings or bags, so that the jewellery made from it has a vibrant look and feel. The stones polish well, and the colouring is rich in each stone. Earrings made from tourmaline are unusual and intriguing!
The beautiful translucent bright green Peridot is the birthstone of the month of August. It is also known by the names Chrysolite and Olivine. The best examples come from Egypt and from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The intensity of the colour of the stone depends upon the amount of iron it contains. Its chemical composition is magnesium iron silicate.
The origins of the name ‘Peridot’ are obscure; some authorities say that it is derived from the Greek word peridona which means ‘giving plenty’; others that it comes from the Arabic word faridat, meaning gem.
Schumann notes that there are historically important deposits on the Red Sea island of Zabargad, where it has been mined for over 3,500 years; it is also found in Burma (Myanmar), Queensland Australia, Brazil, China, Kenya, Tanzania, and Arizona. It has even been found in Norway.