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.
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.
Another gorgeous gemstone features as this month’s gemstone of the month. Aquamarine is the birthstone of March, and as its name implies it is the colour of the sea. Aquamarine is a stunningly beautiful stone, semi-transparent to transparent, greenish-blue to pale blue, like the colour of seafoam.
Aquamarine is a type of Beryl and is related to emerald; its chemical composition is aluminium beryllium silicate, and owes its beautiful colour to iron. The most important deposits are found in Brazil, although it is also found in Australia, many countries throughout Africa, and China.
Here at Granary Knits, we use aquamarine in jewellery, both as single-stone pieces, such as these aquamarine earrings, and mixed with other gemstones and luscious glass beads to form individual unique pieces.
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.
Citrine is the birthstone for the month of November. It is a quartz, and its chemical composition is silicon dioxide coloured with iron. It is not as flashy a gemstone as lapis lazuli, or malachite, or emerald, but it does have a quiet beauty all of its own.
It ranges in colour from light yellow to golden brown, and is only found in a transparent form. Natural citrine is rare, and most commercially available stones are actually heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz; heat-treated stones nearly always have a reddish tinge to them, enabling the discerning to detect that the stones are not true citrines. Natural citrine is found mainly in Brazil, Madagascar and the United States, with minor deposits in Argentina, Myanmar, Namibia, Russia, Scotland and Spain.
Citrine makes lovely delicate unusual jewellery. See the Granary Knits store for these and other designs.
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, rich blue Lapis Lazuli is the birthstone for the month of September.
Of all the gemstones I have worked with over the years, I think Lapis Lazuli is my favourite. All gemstones have a certain something about them – the variations in colour, the surprise of interesting inclusions, the mystery of their origins – but lapis has something else, a sort of inner glow. The name is derived from Arabic, meaning blue stone, but there are lots of naturally blue stones and what is sold as lapis is not always lapis. Lapis is an azure blue (coloured by sulphur) rather than the deeper blue of Sodalite or the mid-powder blue of Azurite; it is lighter in colour than Dumortierite (which veers off towards violet-blue), and it is opaque, not transparent to semi-transparent like Lazulite. The best examples have an even colour distribution and some (but not too much!) well distributed inclusions of pyrite – looking like golden speckles within the stone.
It has been mined for over 6,000 years in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan; in Russia it is found near Lake Baikal; in Chile it is mined north of Santiago. It has been used for jewellery since prehistoric times; in the Middle Ages in Europe it was used, ground up, to produce the pigment Ultramarine, an essential colour in mediaeval religious art; palaces and churches have lapis panels and columns, and are decorated with vases and urns sculpted from lapis. Today we still make rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets out of it.
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.