U.S. Road Rules

 

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If you’re traveling to the United States for the first time, there are certain customs that might take some adjustment. Some examples include the weather, the food, people’s attitudes, anddriving laws.

Chances are, the rules of the road in the U.S. will be slightly different than those that you’re used to. The guide below will outline the different laws that are common across the country.

NOTE: Keep in mind that certain traffic laws can also differ from state to state. Before traveling, check up on the driving and safety laws for the state that you’ll be in.

General Driving Rules in the U.S.

Below are a set of driving rules that apply to every state in the United States. Take your time while driving to allow yourself to adjust to the differences.

  • Vehicles drive on the right side of the road.
    • This might feel odd, especially at intersections and turn lanes if you’re used to driving on the left side of the road.
  • Steering wheels are on the left side of the car.
  • When making a left hand turnpass in front of cars making similar left hand turns across the intersection.
    • Do not try to pass behind cars turning across from you.
  • White lines are used to separate lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • Yellow lines are used to separate traffic headed in opposite directions.
    • Do NOT cross into lanes separated by lines that are solid yellow.
    • If the yellow line is broken, cross/pass with caution, but be highly aware of oncoming traffic.
  • If you’re behind a school bus with flashing red lights, you may NOT pass it until the lights have stopped flashing.
  • Carpool/HOV lanes are typically located on the far left side of U.S. freeways.
  • Pedestrians always have the legal right of way.
    • If you see someone crossing the street, you must come to a full stop for them.
  • Keep a careful eye out for motorcyclists and bicyclists.
    • Double check all of your mirrors and blind spots before making lane changes.
    • In some states, bicyclists are required to ride in the street; while some cities have designated bike lines, others do not. Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Car horns should be used sparingly and only if you fear someone putting you in danger.
    • If you use the horn excessively, people could get upset at you and try to retaliate.

For Your Safety

Some of these safety laws might seem obvious, but are important to follow because they could save your life.

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
    • If you have children, make sure that they’re buckled in correctly before you begin to drive.
    • Children under a certain age or weight may be required to sit in a child safety seat or booster seat. We’ve compiled lists of the safety law requirements in all states, so you can choose the ones you’ll be driving in to see what the regulations are.
  • Never drink and drive.
    • It is illegal in all states to drive while legally intoxicated.
  • Don’t text and drive.
    • In many states, texting and driving is illegal. Some prohibit the use of handheld devices for any reason, including for phone calls or navigation. Check out our guide to safety laws in your states of travel for details.
  • After sunset and in bad weather, you must turn on your headlights.
  • Always use your turn signals.
    • Even if it seems like there’s no one around you, always signal before you turn or make lane changes.
  • On freeways and highways, slower traffic generally stays in the right-hand lanes, while faster drivers stick to the left-hand lanes.
  • Hitchhiking is prohibited in most states, and can be very dangerousdo not attempt it, and do not pick anyone up.

If you’re ever in an accident or feel that you’re in immediate danger, dial 911 for medical and police services from anywhere in the United States.

U.S. Road Signs & Traffic Lights

When traveling to the U.S., you’ll probably encounter a few road signs that you don’t recognize, and there may also be some laws around traffic lights you’re not familiar with.

Before getting on the road, review the list below to better understand the rules around United States road signs and stop lights.

  • Traffic lights in the U.S. will generally have red, yellow, and green lights that indicate when you’re supposed to stop and go through intersections:
    • Green means go.
    • Yellow means slow down and prepare to stop.
    • Red means stop.
  • Unless otherwise indicated, you are legally allowed to make right turns at red lights.
    • Make sure that you check for oncoming traffic from all directions beforeturning.
  • Stop signs (red and octagonal in shape) indicate that you must come to a complete stop at the limit line before continuing through an intersection.
  • Yield signs (red or yellow and triangular in shape) indicate that oncoming traffic has the right of way, and you need to wait for the road to clear before progressing.
    • You aren’t required to come to a complete stop at yield signs, but you should slow down—and if traffic is approaching, you may need to stop anyway.
  • Signs that indicate where trains cross into automotive traffic are generally marked by an “X” shape and read “Railroad Crossing” or “RR.”
    • These signs are usually accompanied by flashing lights and bells that will warn of an oncoming train.
    • If you encounter a railroad crossing without lights or sounds, you should come to a complete stop and check the train tracks for any oncoming locomotives.
  • Speed limits are posted on the sides of roads, and indicate (in miles per hour) the minimum and maximum speeds you’re legally allowed to drive in that area.
  • On the freeway, signs above lanes that read “Only” or “Exit Only” indicate that those lanes do not continue on the main freeway, and drivers will either need to merge or take the exit.
  • If you’re parking on the street, make sure that you read all of the signs around your spot, usually indicating how long you’re allowed to keep your car there.
    • Some areas may only allow people with permits to park on the street, or might prohibit street parking altogether—pay attention to everything written on the signs!

U.S. Traffic Tickets & Violations

If you’re given a traffic ticket for violating driving laws, you’ll most likely have to pay a fine in compensation. This can get complicated, since you might only be staying in the U.S. for a few days.

Should you incur a fine, try to pay it off as soon as possible. You can usually do this by mail or online, depending on the state’s ticket policies.

While using a rental car, the company you rented from will most likely be charged and may pass the expenses on to you.

If you’re caught driving under the influence, your punishment could be more severe. The consequences will vary, based on:

  • Individual state laws around DUIs.
  • If anyone was hurt or killed.
  • Whether it’s your first DUI offense.
  • Your blood alcohol content at the time of offense.
  • The recklessness of your driving.

The penalties for DUIs include:

  • Large fines.
  • Alcohol education/treatment programs.
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation.
  • Jail time.

For more information, choose your state(s) of travel within the following guides we’ve put together for your travel needs:

How to get what you want without breaking the law or burning bridges!

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The world is a dynamic place. Things keep changing and there is nothing we can do about it, it’s all part of a process. There is one thing, however that we are in control of, our lives and destiny-Be it through our actions, thoughts or words.

You have been in situations where you have broken the law even without knowing it. Other times, you might have said something or took an action that seemed ideal to you, only to be frowned upon by the people around you.

These situations might have cost you your job, money or even friends. So how can you manage to get what you want out of life without giving up so much?

There are millions of self help guide books being published every day and the authors will claim to know the secret to having it easy in life, and getting what you want. Nothing comes easy. You have to break a sweat before you are finally at the helm. But does it have to be done through breaking the law or having to burn any bridges?

How to avoid breaking the law

You cannot afford to be ignorant, not with the current wave of technology. Always do your research before making any major decisions, to ensure you do not end up taking any unnecessary risks which ultimately leads to breaking the law. It’s a small price to pay for your wellbeing.

A good example can be when trying to attain financial stability. We all want to be wealthy and stable such that we can go anywhere we want or buy anything without having to struggle for it. Yet, I have come to the realization that we don’t always get what we want, and to me, that’s the beauty of life.

You can achieve this stability if you decide to be smart and work hard in whatever field you are invested in. Taking the easy way out to get the money, like embezzling funds, might seem enticing but it’s only beneficial in the short term. What happens, is you risk being caught because it’s against the law. Moreover, you may end up spending the rest of your life in jail.

If you have been working hard all your life and yet you still don’t have as much wealth as you want, maybe it’s time to change strategy and look at other avenues. You can even open your own business to compliment your income gained from your 9 to 5 job.

My cousin, Kevin, was in a similar situation a few months ago. He had finished school, and had got a job which was not paying well. One day as he was walking in town feeling miserable about his lack of money, he thought that if he was invited to participate in a bank robbery, he totally would!

Kevin is not a criminal, but it just goes to show how many of us have thought of taking shortcuts to success. Well, he was never invited to join a group of robbers but he eventually got a better job which pays much more than his previous jobs. By avoiding breaking the law and choosing to be patient as he looked for other opportunities, he was able to get what he wanted, which was to be financially stable.

How not to burn any bridges in the process

Throughout the years, I have found myself losing more friends and jobs more than I ought to. It is not because I was bad at my job or I was a lousy friend. I had no patient and never seemed to know what to say when. However, I have learnt from my mistakes and I can proudly say I am a better person now.

Why is this important? Burning bridges is like shooting yourself in the foot. This is because nothing good ever comes out of it.

How about friendships

You might have been long term friends or lovers and on waking up one day, you realized the relationship was not helping you in any way. In fact you felt miserable most of the time. More often than not, you will opt to avoid all contact with the person and hope to never see or speak to them ever again.

Here is the deal. This is probably the worst course of action you might take. Why? It may lead to hostility between you and the other person which will ultimately rob you of a peace of mind. Also, you cannot be sure that you will never need their help ever again.

Life has a way of humbling us. Why not take time to think it over and choose to still have those people in your life, but at a distance? That way, you still maintain the friendship, but you can now control the level of interaction you have with them, and how much their actions affect you.

At the workplace

Let me paint a scenario for you. You probably go to work every day, yet you hate being in that environment. It may be the abusive nature of the superiors or the unethical way in which tasks are carried out that you don’t agree with.

I have been in such situations severally. Once, I left a well paying job because I didn’t agree with the systems that were in place. By getting out of that situation, and getting another job, I was able to finally look forward to going to work every day and having a peace of mind, which is what I wanted all along.

And that’s not all.

I later came to a realization that you should never take such situations personally. It will save you a lot of headaches.

When you decide to resign or worse, you get fired; try not to burn any bridges on your way out. Reason being, you don’t know where else you might go looking for a job and find the same people.

Do not, under any circumstances, badmouth the other workers or the management. You will also need a good recommendation and references for your future jobs. Why ruin any other chances you could have by making a scene?

At the end of the day, you will walk out of a bad relationship or a job and be in a good space. You may never want to see those people again, but also, you won’t be in an awkward position if that chance presents itself.

The bottom line is, you have to learn the art of being truly free. You will not achieve this behind bars or by always trying to avoid the many people you had issues with. This will only hold you back.

It’s only by being free that you will be able to achieve even beyond what you expected. We create our own destiny. You are in charge of your future. Make going for what you want a worthy cause.

 

Drinking Pickle Juice: 10 Reasons It’s All the Rage

 

 

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At first, drinking pickle juice might sound kind of gross. But there are several reasons to consider it.

Athletes have been sipping this briny beverage for years. Experts didn’t know all the reasons why pickle juice was good to drink after exercising. They just knew that it seemed to help relieve cramps.

They were right. It appears to help with muscle cramps, plus more. Here’s a look at 10 healthy benefits of drinking pickle juice.

1. It soothes muscle cramps

Dehydrated men experienced faster relief from muscle cramps after drinking pickle juice, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

About 1/3 cup of pickle juice is all it took to have this effect. Pickle juice relieved cramps more than drinking the same amount of water. It also helped more than drinking nothing at all.

This could be because the vinegar in pickle juice may help with rapid pain relief. Vinegar may help stop nerve signals that make tired muscles cramp.

2. It helps you stay hydrated

For most people, drinking water for hydration after a workout is fine. Water is probably all you need if you’re exercising moderately or for an hour or less.

But it’s a different story if you’re exercising hard, exercising for longer than an hour at a time, or exercising in hot climates.

Drinking something with sodium and potassium can help you get hydrated faster. Sodium is an electrolyte that you lose when you sweat. Potassium is another electrolyte lost in sweat.

Pickle juice contains a lot of sodium. It also has some potassium. After a sweaty or lengthy exercise session, sipping some pickle juice can help your body recover to its normal electrolyte levels more quickly.

Watching your sodium intake or on a low-sodium diet? Be sure to check with your doctor and dietitian about pickle juice before drinking it.

3. It’s a fat-free recovery aid

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably not too psyched about consuming high-calorie sports drinks.

It’s still a good plan to replace lost electrolytes after exercising hard, for a long time, or in hot weather. Plus, if your muscles are cramping, you’ll probably want relief as fast as possible.

Pickle juice to the rescue! Pickle juice contains no fat, but it can have some calories. It can have anywhere from zero to 100 calories per 1-cup serving. The amount of calories depends on what’s in the pickling solution.

4. It won’t bust your budget

If you already eat pickles regularly, you don’t have to spend money on sports drinks. Even if you don’t eat pickles, you can still choose pickle juice as a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive workout beverages.

You can also buy commercially prepared pickle juices marketed as sports drinks. They cost more than drinking what’s left in your pickle jar when all the pickles are gone. The upside is that you’ll know from reading the nutrition label what you’re getting in each serving.

5. It contains antioxidants

Pickle juice has significant amounts of vitamins C and E, two key antioxidants. Antioxidants help shield your body from damaging molecules called free radicals. Everyone gets exposed to free radicals, so having plenty of antioxidants in your diet is a good idea.

Vitamins C and E also help boost your immune system function, among other roles they play in your body.

 

Guide to Gemstones

 

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Gemstones have played various roles in the myths and legends of human cultures throughout history. Some tell a story or are believed to have special powers, but all of them share a common beauty. Each gemstone is unique with a special color, birthplace and story. Gemstones come in every color of the rainbow and are gathered from all corners of the world, with each colored gemstone possessing a unique creation of beautiful color. Some gemstones have been treasured since before history began and others were only discovered recently. Join us as we explore the world of color gemstone jewelry.

ALEXANDRITE

If you love magic, especially the magic of science, you’ll love Alexandrite, the color-change gem. Outside in daylight, it is a cool bluish mossy green. Inside in lamplight, it is a red gem with a warm raspberry tone. You can watch it flick back and forth by switching from fluorescent to incandescent light. The value of the gemstone increases as the color change becomes more distinct.

It is truly spellbinding to see the spectacular changing colors in this wonderful gemstone; you just might feel some of the mysterious magic and lore ascribed to it. It’s said to strengthen intuition, aid in creativity and inspire the imagination.

AMETHYST

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed Amethyst would ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, and keep the wearer clear headed and quick-witted. For centuries, Amethyst has been associated with many myths and legends as well as religions in numerous cultures.

Not only is it the beautiful color that makes this gem so popular but it is also widely available in difference shapes and sizes which makes it more affordable. Amethyst complements both warm and cool colors so it looks fabulous set in both yellow and white metals. This unique ability means it enhances almost every color in your wardrobe.

AQUAMARINE

The name Aquamarine speaks for itself, meaning seawater. Aquamarine immediately brings to mind its stunning pastel sky blue or the bright color of the sea.

For centuries, this timeless gemstone has been a symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity. Since this gemstone is the color of water and the sky, it is said to embody eternal life. It was long thought that Aquamarine has a soothing influence on married couples, making it a good anniversary gift.

Aquamarines are found in a range of blues; from a pale pastel to a greenish-blue to a deep color. Darker shades of blue are increasingly rare and in turn, make the value increase. Aquamarine is frequently a pastel gemstone but the color can be more intense in larger gemstones, smaller aquamarines tend to be less vivid.

CITRINE

This bright shining gem has said to be a gift from the sun. The name Citrine, which is French for “lemon”, fits well with its color range of juicy lemon yellow to a bright orangey brown. Most people choose a Citrine based on their personal preference, but some of the most sought-after Citrine gemstones have a clear, radiant yellowish to brownish red color.

In ancient times, Citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. Today, Citrine is known as the merchant’s stone and is associated with success and prosperity.

Citrine is one of the most popular and affordable gemstones. It is relatively plentiful and available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, including very large sizes. These reasons make it a great gem for that big, bold, statement piece.

DIAMOND

Since ancient times, diamonds have been admired objects of desire. Formed one hundred miles beneath the Earth’s surface over a billion years ago, diamonds are the hardest gem of all. Diamonds have a long history of folklore; some of which say diamonds were created when bolts of lightning struck rocks, and others said the gem possessed healing powers. For centuries, diamonds have been adorned by women and men and regarded as the ultimate gift and a symbol of eternal love.

Today, diamonds are still admired all around the world. Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no standard by which diamonds could be evaluated. GIA created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: ColorClarityCut, and Carat Weight. Today, the 4C’s of Diamond Quality are the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.

EMERALD

Green is the color of Spring and has long symbolized love and rebirth. As the gem of Venus, it was also considered to aid in fertility.

Cleopatra, Egypt’s tempestuous female monarch was as famous for wearing Emeralds in her time as Liz Taylor is for wearing diamonds in our time. Ancient Egyptian mummies were often buried with an Emerald carved with the symbol of verdure– flourishing greenness–on their necks to symbolize eternal youth.

The deeper and more vivid the color of green, the more valuable the gemstone. The most valuable and beautiful Emeralds exhibit an intense bluish hue in addition to their basic bold green color. Emeralds, among the rarest of gems, are almost always found with birthmarks, known as inclusions. Some inclusions are expected and do not detract from the value of the stone as much as with other gemstones.

FANCY COLOR DIAMONDS

Fancy color diamonds are true miracles of nature. The geological conditions needed to create these colors are rare, making them scarce and highly prized. They come in pale pinks and blues, bright yellows, oranges, greens, reds, and brown colors like cognac and champagne.

Fancy-color diamonds are evaluated by their color intensity, unlike colorless diamonds that are graded on their fire and brilliance. Shades that are deep and distinct in color are rated higher than light or pale shades. GIA describes color in terms of hue, tone and saturation. Hue refers to the diamond’s color, tone refers to the color’s lightness or darkness, and saturation refers the color’s depth. Using highly controlled viewing conditions and color comparisons, a fancy color grader selects one of 27 hues, then describes tone and saturation with terms such as “Fancy Light,” “Fancy Intense,” and “Fancy Vivid.” This color system was developed by GIA and is used worldwide.

Today, yellow diamonds are thought of as “traditional” and are among the most abundant of all “fancy colored” diamonds. Red, green, purple, and orange diamonds are generally the rarest, followed by blue and pink.

GARNET

This gem is available in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red Bohemian Garnet to the vibrant greens of the Russian Demantoid and African Tsavorite. We also see it appearing in the oranges and browns of Spessartite and Hessonite from Namibia and Sri Lanka and the subtle pinks and purples of Rhododendron.

Legend says Garnets light up the night and protect their owners from nightmares. Garnets have long been carried by travelers to protect against accidents far from home. Garnet is the birthstone for January but with its stunning variety of colors and its mystical powers it has been given as a gift for all occasions for centuries.

JADE

Jade has been treasured in China as the royal gemstone since at least 2950 BC. Thought to preserve the body after death, Jade can be found in emperors’ tombs from thousands of years ago. To this day, many people believe that jade will protect them from harm.

Jade is known for it’s vivid green and shimmery, smooth shapes but it also comes in lavender, pink, yellow, and white. The most common shape is the flat, donut-shaped disc called a pi, which is commonly worn as a necklace.

LAPIS LAZULI

Known to man as early as 400B.C., Lapis Lazuli has been a long time treasured gemstone. Used to create the beautiful ocean blues as well as the vibrant sky blues in pantings during the Renaissance, Lapis Lazuli is a colored gemstone that has been revered for centuries.

Its name means “blue stone” and it couldn’t be more accurate. Lapis Lazuli is a dark blue microcrystalline rock that often sparkles with golden pyrite inclusions. This stunning gem is reminiscent of the stars in the midnight sky. Lapis Lazuli was also thought to be a strong medicine. The Romans believed this gem to be a powerful aphrodisiac. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to keep the limbs healthy and free the soul from error, envy and fear.

MOONSTONE

Ancient Romans believed that this shimmering rock was formed from frozen moonlight, giving it the name Moonstone.

In colors ranging from colorless to gray, brown, yellow, green, or pink and clarity that goes from transparent to translucent. The best Moonstone has a blue sheen, perfect clarity, and a colorless body color. Found in India and Madagascar, rainbow Moonstone has a variety of colors, from pink to yellow, to peach, purple, and blue.

Fine Moonstone is quite rare and becoming rarer. We’ve searched to the ends of the earth to find some of the world’s most stunning Moonstone.

 

MORGANITE

With its dazzling brilliance and soft colors of clear pink, peach, and hot fuchsia it’s no wonder it is known as the stone of divine love. The delicate pink gem promotes love and prosperity.

With shades of pink dominating the fashion industry, Morganite is a favorite for women of all ages. Coming in pinks from subtle lavenders to bright fuchsias and even pastel pink apricot blends, Morganite exudes charm and tenderness. Its mass appeal is due to its versatile pink colors that compliment all skin tones and can be set in white or yellow gold.

ONYX

Today when we think of Onyx we often preface the word with black to distinguish it from other varieties of Onyx. This gem comes in white, reddish brown, brown and banded. A variety of Onyx that is reddish brown with white and lighter reddish bands is known as sardonyx.

Black never goes out of style, which is why you can never go wrong with black Onyx. Its appealing rich black color can be both classic and contemporary.

OPAL

In ancient times, the Opal was known as the Queen of Gems because it encompassed the colors of all other gems. Each Opal is truly one-of-a-kind; as unique as our fingerprints. Some prefer the calming flashes of blues and greens; others love the bright reds and yellows. With its rainbow of colors, as you turn and move the Opal the color plays and shifts, giving you a gem that can be worn with a plethora of ensembles.

Australia’s Lightning Ridge is known for its rare and stunning black Opals. The ideal Opal is one that displays broad patterns covering the surface, with all the colors of the rainbow, including red. Since Opals are the most individual gemstone with its range of colors be sure to choose one that showcases your color preference and pattern.

PARAIBA TOURMALINE

Paraiba Tourmaline gemstones have become one of the most precious and valuable gems in the world, even though it was only discovered in the 1980’s. Its rare shades of electric blues and greens are reminiscent of the blue ocean shores of Paraiba, where this gem is mined. These unique, vivid blue and green colors are not found in any other gemstone in the world.

PEARLS

In all of human history, mankind has admired, even worshipped, pearls. Persian mythology called them “the tears of the gods.” Ancient Chinese legend claims the moon holds the power to create pearls, instilling them with its celestial glow and mystery.

Pearls are unique because they are the only gemstone formed within a living creature. Since natural pearls are rare and difficult to recover from the ocean’s depths, man invented the technique of culturing salt and freshwater pearls from mollusks carefully seeded with irritants similar to those produced by nature.

Cultured pearls come in many beautiful colors, from pale cream and white to rose, lilac, green, gold, gray, and black. There are four main types of cultured pearls: AkoyaSouth SeaTahitian, and Freshwater each having unique qualities that separates them for the other.

Today pearls are both classic and contemporary; a strand of white pearls can be timeless but a bracelet of chocolate pearls is more modern. One thing to keep in mind with pearls, no matter the color or size, they can be worn every day or they can compliment the most formal attire.

PERIDOT

Peridot is one of the few gemstones that exists in only one color; a distinctive signature lime green. In ancient times it was believed that Peridot was a gift of Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world. When presented as a gift, Peridot is said to bring the wearer magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares. It is also said to instill power, and influence through the wearing of the gemstone.

Today, most Peridot comes from Arizona but it is also found in China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Peridot is available in several colors ranging from yellowish green to brown, but the bright lime greens and olive greens are the most desired. If you prefer citrus tones or earth tones, you’ll find that Peridot belongs in your jewelry collection.

Peridot gemstones smaller than three carats are very common but gemstones over five carats are rare and therefore have a higher value. Peridot in 10 to 15 carats are even more rare, but provide a big and bold look for an affordable price.

RUBELLITE

Rubellite Tourmaline, also known as Red Tourmaline, is a combination of vibrant pink and ruby red color. Intense colors that vary in hue from pale to shocking pink to a bold ruby-red, sometimes with a violet tint. While some in the gem world consider “Rubellite” to be merely a trade name for all deep pink/red Tourmalines, the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICGA) defines the criterion for Rubellites by the way they behave in daylight and artificial light. A true Rubellite shines just as intensely in artificial light as it does in daylight.

Its vibrant color reflects passion, energy, and life and it is believed that Rubellite helps bring emotional balance and calm. Whether you prefer subtle pale pinks or hot, vivid shades of magenta, this gem is sure to start a spark.

RUBY

The Ruby represents love, passion, courage and emotion. For centuries this gem has been considered the king of all gems. It was believed that wearing a fine red Ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner. Rubies have been the prized possession of emperors and kings throughout the ages. To this day the Ruby is the most valued gemstone.

The color of a Ruby is the most important feature of the gemstone. Rubies are available in a range of red hues from purplish and bluish red to orange-red. The brightest and most valuable color of Ruby is often “a Burmese Ruby” – an indication that it is a rich, passionate, hot, full red color with a slight blue hue. This color is often referred to as “pigeon blood” red, a Ruby color only associated with the Mogok Valley mines in Myanmar. The color Pigeon Blood Ruby red, is not associated with the color of a pigeon’s blood but rather the color of a white pigeon’s eye.

SAPPHIRE

When hearing the word Sapphire many people immediately envision a stunning violet-blue gemstone because the word “Sapphire” is Greek for blue. For centuries, the Sapphire has been referred to as the ultimate blue gemstone. Since Ancient times the Blue Sapphire represented a promise of honesty, loyalty, purity and trust. To keep with this tradition Sapphires are one of the most popular engagement gemstones today.

Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized Sapphires are from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Sapphires with highly saturated violet-blue color and “velvety” or “sleepy” transparency are more rare. The purer the blue of the Sapphire, the greater the price. However, many people find that the darker hues of Sapphire can be just as appealing.

Sapphires are not only blue, they come in almost every color of the rainbow: pink, yellow, orange, peach, and violet colors. The most sought-after color fancy Sapphire is the rare and beautiful Padparadscha: a pink-orange corundum with a distinctive salmon color reminiscent of a tropical sunset. These ultra-rare, ultra-expensive stones are among the most coveted gems in the world.

SPINEL

Centuries ago, Sanskrit writings referred to Spinel as the daughter of ruby. The bright red color of Spinel is so closely related to the Ruby the two of them are often confused with one another. Spinels are actually more rare than ruby but, unlike ruby, they sometimes can be found in very large sizes.

In addition to beautiful rich reds, Spinel can be found in shades of orange and beautiful pastel pink, as well as purple. Of particular interest is a vivid, hot pink with a tinge of orange that is mined in Burma, which is one of the most spectacular gemstone colors and unlike any other gem. Spinel also comes in beautiful blues, but these are extremely rare.

Believed to protect the owner from harm, to reconcile differences, and to soothe away sadness. However, its true appeal is the range of rich, brilliant colors and affordability.

TANZANITE

Tanzanite is a one-of-a-kind gemstone unlike any other and can only be found in one place on Earth: the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. This gem possesses an exotic velvety blue with a rich overtone of purple, a color unlike any other.

One of today’s most popular blue gemstones, Tanzanite comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and striking assortments of blue tones. Rarely pure blue, Tanzanite almost always displays its signature overtones of purple. In smaller sizes, Tanzanite usually contains lighter tones and the lavender color is more common. While in larger sizes, Tanzanite typically displays a deeper, richer and beautiful blue.

TOPAZ

In shades of yellow, brown, honey, green, blue, red, pink and sometimes no color at all, Topaz has a mass appeal. Topaz is often found in an amber gold, yellow, or a blushing pink orange but a pale pink or a sherry red Topaz is very exceptional. The most prized color of Topaz is called Imperial Topaz and features a magnificent orange with pink undertones. Blue, once the most rare color of Topaz, is the most common today due to man’s ability to enhance its color; Topaz with a naturally blue color is very rare.

The ancient Egyptians and Romans associated this golden gem with the sun god giving it the power to protect and heal. Legend says that topaz dispels enchantment. With its worldwide mass appeal throughout the centuries, once you find that perfect Topaz you’ll soon be under its spell.

TOURMALINE

Available in a spectrum of colors and color combinations, Tourmaline lives up to its name, which means “mixed stone”. With a rainbow of colors, Tourmaline can easily enhance any jewelry collection. Cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, violet: Tourmaline is all of these and more.

Tourmaline is also known for displaying several colors in one gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations and are highly prized. One multi-color variety is known as Watermelon Tourmaline and features green, pink, and white color bands. To resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge.

TURQUOISE

Turquoise is among the oldest known gemstones and its popularity has spanned the globe for centuries. It graced the necks of Egyptian Pharaohs and adorned the ceremonial dress of early Native Americans. This beautiful robin’s egg blue gemstone has been attributed with healing powers, promoting the wearer’s status and wealth, protecting from evil and bringing good luck.

Turquoise is an opaque, light to dark blue or blue-green gem with its finest color being an intense blue. Turquoise may contain narrow veins of other materials either isolated or as a network. They are usually black, brown, or yellowish-brown in color. Known as the matrix, these veins of color are sometimes in the form of an intricate pattern, called a spider web.

ZIRCON

Most people think of a bright sky blue when they hear Zircon, but it is also available in beautiful earth tones of green, dark red, yellow, brown, and orange. Today, the most popular colors of Zircon are the vivid blue and bright Caribbean Sea colors.

In the Middle Ages, Zircon was said to aid in resting, bring prosperity and promote honor and wisdom in its owner.

The spectrum of beautiful colors, its rarity and affordability are why it is becoming more popular today. Some gem collectors seek out Zircon from different locations capturing gems in every color of the rainbow – colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red, and all the colors in between.

Just a little recap of all the GemStones I have been blogging about.  Thank you everyone.

Beans

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. Broad beans, also called fava beans, in their wild state the size of a small fingernail, were gathered in Afghanistan and the Himalayan foothills.In a form improved from naturally occurring types, they were grown in Thailand since the early seventh millennium BCE, predating ceramics.They were deposited with the dead in ancient Egypt. Not until the second millennium BCE did cultivated, large-seeded broad beans appear in the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe.In the Iliad (8th century BCE) is a passing mention of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor.

Beans were an important source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today.

The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.However, genetic analyses of the common bean Phaseolusshows that it originated in Mesoamerica, and subsequently spread southward, along with maize and squash, traditional companion crops.

Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh or dried, those of the genus Phaseolus, come originally from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus, during his exploration of what may have been the Bahamas, found them growing in fields. Five kinds of Phaseolus beans were domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples: common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) grown from Chile to the northern part of what is now the United States, and lima and sieva beans (Phaseolus lunatus), as well as the less widely distributed teparies (Phaseolus acutifolius), scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) and polyanthus beans (Phaseolus polyanthus) One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people as far north as the Atlantic seaboard is the “Three Sisters” method of companion plant cultivation:

In the New World, many tribes would grow beans together with maize (corn), and squash. The corn would not be planted in rows as is done by European agriculture, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to six stalks each.
Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, “bush beans” having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.
Squash would be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, would shade the soil and reduce evaporation, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.

Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot).

Beans are a heliotropic plant, meaning that the leaves tilt throughout the day to face the sun. At night, they go into a folded “sleep” position.

 1235  N Loop 336 west  Conroe TX 77301

Sunstone

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Sunstone is a plagioclase feldspar, which when viewed from certain directions exhibits a spangled appearance. It has been found in Southern NorwaySweden and in various United States localities.

The optical effect appears to be due to reflections from inclusions of red copper, in the form of minute scales, which are hexagonalrhombic, or irregular in shape, and are disposed parallel to the principal cleavage-plane. These inclusions give the stone an appearance something like that of aventurine, hence sunstone is known also as “aventurine-feldspar”. The optical effect called shiller and the color in Oregon Sunstone is due to copper. The middle part of this crystal sparkles, and usually the color is darkest in the middle and becomes lighter toward the outer edges.

The feldspar which usually displays the aventurine appearance is oligoclase, though the effect is sometimes seen in orthoclase: hence two kinds of sunstone are distinguished as “oligoclase sunstone” and “orthoclase sunstone”.

Sunstone was not popular until recently. Previously the best-known locality being Tvedestrand, near Arendal, in south Norway, where masses of the sunstone occur embedded in a vein of quartz running through gneiss.

Other locations include near Lake Baikal in Siberia, and several United States localities—notably at Middletown Township, Delaware County, PennsylvaniaPlush, Oregon; and Statesville, North Carolina.

A small rolled sunstone

The “orthoclase sunstone” variant has been found near Crown Point and at several other localities in New York, as also at Glen Riddle in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and at Amelia CourthouseAmelia County, Virginia.

Sunstone is also found in Pleistocene basalt flows at Sunstone Knoll in Millard County, Utah.

In the early 2000s, red or green gemstone resembling sunstone and known as ‘Andesine’ appeared in the gem market. After much controversy and debate, most of these gemstones, allegedly sourced from China and sold by JTV, were subsequently discovered to have been artificially coloured by a copper diffusion process. An alleged Tibetan source of bona fide (untreated) red andesine was attributed by a number of independent groups of well-respected gemologists, but was later found to be false.

A variety known as Oregon sunstone is found in Harney County, Oregon and in eastern Lake County north of Plush. Oregon Sunstone contains elemental copper. Oregon Sunstone is unique in that crystals can be quite large. The copper leads to variant color within some stones, where turning one stone will result in manifold hues: the more copper within the stone, the darker the complexion.

On August 4, 1987, the Oregon State Legislature designated Oregon Sunstone as its state gemstone by joint resolution

Jasper

 

 

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Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz and/or chalcedony and other mineral phases, is an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color; and rarely blue. The common red color is due to iron(III) inclusions. The mineral aggregate breaks with a smooth surface and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for items such as vases, seals, and snuff boxes. The specific gravity of jasper is typically 2.5 to 2.9. A green variety with red spots, known as heliotrope (bloodstone), is one of the traditional birthstones for March. Jaspilite is a banded iron formation rock that often has distinctive bands of jasper.

The name means “spotted or speckled stone”, and is derived via Old French jaspre (variant of Anglo-Norman jaspe) and Latin iaspidem (nom. iaspis) from Greek ἴασπις iaspis (feminine noun), from an Afroasiatic language (cf. Hebrewישפה yashpehAkkadian yashupu).

Green jasper was used to make bow drills in Mehrgarh between 4th and 5th millennium BC. Jasper is known to have been a favorite gem in the ancient world; its name can be traced back in ArabicAzerbaijaniPersian, Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek and Latin. On Minoan Crete, jasper was carved to produce seals circa 1800 BC, as evidenced by archaeological recoveries at the palace of Knossos.

Although the term jasper is now restricted to opaque quartz, the ancient iaspis was a stone of considerable translucency including nephrite. The jasper of antiquity was in many cases distinctly green, for it is often compared to the emeraldand other green objects. Jasper is referred to in the Nibelungenlied as being clear and green. The jasper of the ancients probably included stones which would now be classed as chalcedony, and the emerald-like jasper may have been akin to the modern chrysoprase. The Hebrew word may have designated a green jasper. Flinders Petrie suggested that the odem, the first stone on the High Priest’s breastplate, was a red jasper, whilst tarshish, the tenth stone, may have been a yellow jasper.

Jasper is an opaque rock of virtually any color stemming from the mineral content of the original sediments or ash. Patterns arise during the consolidation process forming flow and depositional patterns in the original silica rich sediment or volcanic ashHydrothermal circulation is generally thought to be required in the formation of jasper.

Jasper can be modified by the diffusion of minerals along discontinuities providing the appearance of vegetative growth, i.e., dendritic. The original materials are often fractured and/or distorted, after deposition, into diverse patterns, which are later filled in with other colorful minerals. Weathering, with time, will create intensely colored superficial rinds.

The classification and naming of jasper varieties presents a challenge. Terms attributed to various well-defined materials includes the geographic locality where it is found, sometimes quite restricted such as “Bruneau” (a canyon) and “Lahontan” (a lake), rivers and even individual mountains; many are fanciful, such as “forest fire” or “rainbow”, while others are descriptive, such as “autumn” or “porcelain”. A few are designated by the place of origin such as a brown Egyptian or red African.

Jasper is the main component in the silica-rich parts of banded iron formations (BIFs) which indicate low, but present, amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water such as during the Great Oxidation Event or snowball earths.[14] The red bands, typically more competent than the hematite layers surrounding it, are made of microcrystalline red chert, also called jasper.

Picture jaspers exhibit combinations of patterns {such as banding from flow or depositional patterns (from water or wind), dendritic or color variations} resulting in what appear to be scenes or images (on a cut section). Diffusion from a center produces a distinctive orbicular appearance, i.e., leopard skin jasper, or linear banding from a fracture as seen in leisegang jasper. Healed, fragmented rock produces brecciated (broken) jasper.

While these “picture jaspers” can be found all over the world, specific colors or patterns are unique to the geographic region from which they originate. Oregon‘s Biggs jasper, and Idaho‘s Bruneau jasper from the Bruneau River canyon are particularly fine examples. Other examples can be seen at Llanddwyn Island in Wales.

 

Loose Diamonds & Gemstones

 

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gemstone (also called a gemfine gemjewelprecious stone, or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However, certain rocks (such as lapis lazuliopal, and jade) or organic materials that are not minerals (such as amberjet, and pearl) are also used for jewelry and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone.

Apart from jewelry, from earliest antiquity engraved gems and hardstone carvings, such as cups, were major luxury art forms. A gem maker is called a lapidary or gemcutter; a diamond worker is a diamantaire. The carvings of Carl Fabergé are significant works in this tradition.

The traditional classification in the West, which goes back to the ancient Greeks, begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious; similar distinctions are made in other cultures. In modern use the precious stones are diamondrubysapphire and emerald, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. This distinction reflects the rarity of the respective stones in ancient times, as well as their quality: all are translucent with fine color in their purest forms, except for the colorless diamond, and very hard, with hardnesses of 8 to 10 on the Mohs scale. Other stones are classified by their color, translucency and hardness. The traditional distinction does not necessarily reflect modern values, for example, while garnets are relatively inexpensive, a green garnet called tsavorite can be far more valuable than a mid-quality emerald. Another unscientific term for semi-precious gemstones used in art history and archaeology is hardstone. Use of the terms ‘precious’ and ‘semi-precious’ in a commercial context is, arguably, misleading in that it deceptively implies certain stones are intrinsically more valuable than others, which is not necessarily the case.

In modern times gemstones are identified by gemologists, who describe gems and their characteristics using technical terminology specific to the field of gemology. The first characteristic a gemologist uses to identify a gemstone is its chemical composition. For example, diamonds are made of carbon (C) and rubies of aluminium oxide (Al
2O
3
). Next, many gems are crystals which are classified by their crystal system such as cubic or trigonalor monoclinic. Another term used is habit, the form the gem is usually found in. For example, diamonds, which have a cubic crystal system, are often found as octahedrons.

Gemstones are classified into different groupsspecies, and varieties. For example, ruby is the red variety of the species corundum, while any other color of corundum is considered sapphire. Other examples are the emerald (green), aquamarine (blue), red beryl (red), goshenite (colorless), heliodor (yellow) and morganite (pink), which are all varieties of the mineral species beryl.

Gems are characterized in terms of refractive indexdispersionspecific gravityhardnesscleavagefracture and luster. They may exhibit pleochroism or double refraction. They may have luminescence and a distinctive absorption spectrum.

Material or flaws within a stone may be present as inclusions.

Gemstones may also be classified in terms of their “water”. This is a recognized grading of the gem’s luster, transparency, or “brilliance”. Very transparent gems are considered “first water“, while “second” or “third water” gems are those of a lesser transparency.

There is no universally accepted grading system for gemstones. Diamonds are graded using a system developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the early 1950s. Historically, all gemstones were graded using the naked eye. The GIA system included a major innovation: the introduction of 10x magnification as the standard for grading clarity. Other gemstones are still graded using the naked eye (assuming 20/20 vision).

mnemonic device, the “four Cs” (color, cut, clarity, and carats), has been introduced to help the consumer understand the factors used to grade a diamond. With modification, these categories can be useful in understanding the grading of all gemstones. The four criteria carry different weight depending upon whether they are applied to colored gemstones or to colorless diamonds. In diamonds, cut is the primary determinant of value, followed by clarity and color. Diamonds are meant to sparkle, to break down light into its constituent rainbow colors (dispersion), chop it up into bright little pieces (scintillation), and deliver it to the eye (brilliance). In its rough crystalline form, a diamond will do none of these things; it requires proper fashioning and this is called “cut”. In gemstones that have color, including colored diamonds, it is the purity and beauty of that color that is the primary determinant of quality.

Physical characteristics that make a colored stone valuable are color, clarity to a lesser extent (emeralds will always have a number of inclusions), cut, unusual optical phenomena within the stone such as color zoning (the uneven distribution of coloring within a gem) and asteria (star effects). The Greeks, for example, greatly valued asteria gemstones, which were regarded as powerful love charms, and Helen of Troy was known to have worn star-corundum.

Aside from the diamond, the rubysapphireemeraldpearl (not, strictly speaking, a gemstone), and opal  have also been considered to be precious. Up to the discoveries of bulk amethyst in Brazil in the 19th century, amethyst was considered a precious stone as well, going back to ancient Greece. Even in the last century certain stones such as aquamarineperidot and cat’s eye (cymophane) have been popular and hence been regarded as precious.

Today such a distinction is no longer made by the gemstone trade. Many gemstones are used in even the most expensive jewelry, depending on the brand name of the designer, fashion trends, market supply, treatments, etc. Nevertheless, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds still have a reputation that exceeds those of other gemstones.

Rare or unusual gemstones, generally meant to include those gemstones which occur so infrequently in gem quality that they are scarcely known except to connoisseurs, include andalusiteaxinitecassiteriteclinohumite and red beryl.

Gemstone pricing and value are governed by factors and characteristics on the quality of the stone. These characteristics include clarity, rarity, freedom of defects, beauty of the stone, as well as the demand for them. There are different pricing influencers for both colored gemstones, and for diamonds. The pricing on colored stones is determined by market supply-and-demand, but diamonds are more intricate. Diamond value can change based on location, time, and on the evaluations of diamond vendors.

There are a number of laboratories which grade and provide reports on gemstones.

  • Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the main provider of education services and diamond grading reports. And also Colourstone reports.
  • International Gemological Institute (IGI), independent laboratory for grading and evaluation of diamonds, jewelry and colored stones.
  • Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD Antwerp), The Diamond High Council, Belgium is one of Europe’s oldest laboratories. Its main stakeholder is the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
  • American Gemological Society (AGS) is not as widely recognized nor as old as the GIA.
  • American Gem Trade Laboratory which is part of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), a trade organization of jewelers and dealers of colored stones.
  • American Gemological Laboratories (AGL), owned by Christopher P. Smith.
  • European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), founded in 1974 by Guy Margel in Belgium.
  • Gemmological Association of All Japan (GAAJ-ZENHOKYO), Zenhokyo, Japan, active in gemological research.
  • The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) or GIT, the Thailand’s national institute for gemological research and gem testing, Bangkok.
  • Gemmology Institute of Southern Africa, Africa’s premium gem laboratory.
  • Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS), the oldest gemological institute in South East Asia, involved in gemological education and gem testing.
  • Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF), founded by Henry Hänni, focusing on colored gemstones and the identification of natural pearls.
  • Gübelin Gem Lab, the traditional Swiss lab founded by Eduard Gübelin.

Each laboratory has its own methodology to evaluate gemstones. A stone can be called “pink” by one lab while another lab calls it “padparadscha”. One lab can conclude a stone is untreated, while another lab might conclude that it is heat-treated. To minimise such differences, seven of the most respected labs, AGTA-GTL (New York), CISGEM (Milano), GAAJ-ZENHOKYO (Tokyo), GIA (Carlsbad), GIT (Bangkok), Gübelin (Lucerne) and SSEF (Basel), have established the Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC), for the standardization of wording reports, promotion of certain analytical methods and interpretation of results. Country of origin has sometimes been difficult to determine, due to the constant discovery of new source locations. Determining a “country of origin” is thus much more difficult than determining other aspects of a gem (such as cut, clarity, etc.).

Gem dealers are aware of the differences between gem laboratories and will make use of the discrepancies to obtain the best possible certificate.

A few gemstones are used as gems in the crystal or other form in which they are found. Most however, are cut and polished for usage as jewelry. The picture to the left is of a rural, commercial cutting operation in Thailand. This small factory cuts thousands of carats of sapphire annually. The two main classifications are stones cut as smooth, dome shaped stones called cabochons, and stones which are cut with a faceting machine by polishing small flat windows called facets at regular intervals at exact angles.

Stones which are opaque or semi-opaque such as opalturquoisevariscite, etc. are commonly cut as cabochons. These gems are designed to show the stone’s color or surface properties as in opal and star sapphires. Grinding wheels and polishing agents are used to grind, shape and polish the smooth dome shape of the stones.

Gems which are transparent are normally faceted, a method which shows the optical properties of the stone’s interior to its best advantage by maximizing reflected light which is perceived by the viewer as sparkle. There are many commonly used shapes for faceted stones. The facets must be cut at the proper angles, which varies depending on the optical properties of the gem. If the angles are too steep or too shallow, the light will pass through and not be reflected back toward the viewer. The faceting machine is used to hold the stone onto a flat lap for cutting and polishing the flat facets. Rarely, some cutters use special curved laps to cut and polish curved facets.

The color of any material is due to the nature of light itself. Daylight, often called white light, is actually all of the colors of the spectrum combined. When light strikes a material, most of the light is absorbed while a smaller amount of a particular frequency or wavelength is reflected. The part that is reflected reaches the eye as the perceived color. A ruby appears red because it absorbs all the other colors of white light, while reflecting the red.

A material which is mostly the same can exhibit different colors. For example, ruby and sapphire have the same primary chemical composition (both are corundum) but exhibit different colors because of impurities. Even the same named gemstone can occur in many different colors: sapphires show different shades of blue and pink and “fancy sapphires” exhibit a whole range of other colors from yellow to orange-pink, the latter called “padparadscha sapphire”.

This difference in color is based on the atomic structure of the stone. Although the different stones formally have the same chemical composition and structure, they are not exactly the same. Every now and then an atom is replaced by a completely different atom, sometimes as few as one in a million atoms. These so-called impurities are sufficient to absorb certain colors and leave the other colors unaffected.

For example, beryl, which is colorless in its pure mineral form, becomes emerald with chromium impurities. If manganese is added instead of chromium, beryl becomes pink morganite. With iron, it becomes aquamarine.

Some gemstone treatments make use of the fact that these impurities can be “manipulated”, thus changing the color of the gem.

Gemstones are often treated to enhance the color or clarity of the stone. Depending on the type and extent of treatment, they can affect the value of the stone. Some treatments are used widely because the resulting gem is stable, while others are not accepted most commonly because the gem color is unstable and may revert to the original tone.

Heat can improve gemstone color or clarity. The heating process has been well known to gem miners and cutters for centuries, and in many stone types heating is a common practice. Most citrine is made by heating amethyst, and partial heating with a strong gradient results in “ametrine” – a stone partly amethyst and partly citrine. Aquamarine is often heated to remove yellow tones, or to change green colors into the more desirable blue, or enhance its existing blue color to a purer blue.

Nearly all tanzanite is heated at low temperatures to remove brown undertones and give a more desirable blue / purple color. A considerable portion of all sapphire and ruby is treated with a variety of heat treatments to improve both color and clarity.

When jewelry containing diamonds is heated (for repairs) the diamond should be protected with boric acid; otherwise the diamond (which is pure carbon) could be burned on the surface or even burned completely up. When jewelry containing sapphires or rubies is heated, those stones should not be coated with boracic acid (which can etch the surface) or any other substance. They do not have to be protected from burning, like a diamond (although the stones do need to be protected from heat stress fracture by immersing the part of the jewelry with stones in water when metal parts are heated).

It is important to distinguish between synthetic gemstones, and imitation or simulated gems.

Synthetic gems are physically, optically and chemically identical to the natural stone, but are created in controlled conditions in a laboratory. Imitation or simulated stones are chemically different than the natural stone but may be optically similar to it; they can be glass, plastic, resins or other compounds.

Examples of simulated or imitation stones include cubic zirconia, composed of zirconium oxide and simulated moissanite, which are both diamond simulants. The imitations copy the look and color of the real stone but possess neither their chemical nor physical characteristics. Moissanite actually has a higher refractive index than diamond and when presented beside an equivalently sized and cut diamond will have more “fire” than the diamond.

Synthetic, cultured or lab-created gemstones are not imitations. For example, diamondsrubiessapphires and emeralds have been manufactured in labs to possess identical chemical and physical characteristics to the naturally occurring variety. Synthetic (lab created) corundum, including ruby and sapphire, is very common and costs much less than the natural stones. Smaller synthetic diamonds have been manufactured in large quantities as industrial abrasives, although larger gem-quality synthetic diamonds are becoming available in multiple carats.

Whether a gemstone is a natural stone or lab-created (synthetic), the physical characteristics are the same. Lab-created stones tend to have a more vivid color to them, as impurities are not present in a lab and do not modify the clarity or color of the stone, unless added intentionally for a specific purpose.

Sapphire

 

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Sapphire is a precious gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminium oxide (α-Al2O3). It is typically blue, but natural “fancy” sapphires also occur in yellow, purple, orange, and green colors; “parti sapphires” show two or more colors. The only color that sapphire cannot be is red – as red colored corundum is called ruby, another corundum variety. Pink colored corundum may be either classified as ruby or sapphire depending on locale. This variety in color is due to trace amounts of elements such as irontitaniumchromiumcopper, or magnesium.

Commonly, natural sapphires are cut and polished into gemstones and worn in jewelry. They also may be created synthetically in laboratories for industrial or decorative purposes in large crystal boules. Because of the remarkable hardness of sapphires – 9 on the Mohs scale (the third hardest mineral, after diamond at 10 and moissanite at 9.5) – sapphires are also used in some non-ornamental applications, such as infrared opticalcomponents, high-durability windowswristwatch crystals and movement bearings, and very thin electronic wafers, which are used as the insulating substrates of very special-purpose solid-state electronics (especially integrated circuits and GaN-based LEDs).

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gem of the 45th anniversary. A sapphire jubilee occurs after 65 years

Sapphire is one of the two gem-varieties of corundum, the other being ruby (defined as corundum in a shade of red). Although blue is the best-known sapphire color, they occur in other colors, including gray and black, and they can be colorless. A pinkish orange variety of sapphire is called padparadscha.

Significant sapphire deposits are found in Eastern AustraliaThailandSri LankaChina (Shandong), MadagascarEast Africa, and in North America in a few locations, mostly in Montana. Sapphire and rubies are often found in the same geological setting.

Every sapphire mine produces a wide range of quality – and origin is not a guarantee of quality. For sapphire, Kashmir receives the highest premium although Burma, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar also produce large quantities of fine quality gems.

The cost of natural sapphires varies depending on their color, clarity, size, cut, and overall quality. For gems of exceptional quality, an independent determination from a respected laboratory such as the GIAAGL or Gubelin of origin often adds to value.

Sapphires in colors other than blue are called “fancy” or “parti colored” sapphires.

Fancy sapphires are often found in yellow, orange, green, brown, purple and violet hues.

Particolored sapphires are those stones which exhibit two or more colors within a single stone. Australia is the largest source of particolored sapphires; they are not commonly used in mainstream jewelry and remain relatively unknown. Particolored sapphires cannot be created synthetically and only occur naturally.[citation needed]

Colorless sapphires have historically been used as diamond substitutes in jewelry.

Rubies are corundum which contain chromium impurities that absorb yellow-green light and result in deeper ruby red color with increasing content. Purple sapphires contain trace amounts of vanadium and come in a variety of shades. Corundum that contains ~0.01% of titanium is colorless. If trace amounts of iron are present, a very pale yellow to green color may be seen. However, if both titanium and iron impurities are present together, and in the correct valence states, the result is a deep-blue color.

Unlike localized (“intra-atomic”) absorption of light which causes color for chromium and vanadium impurities, blue color in sapphires comes from intervalence charge transfer, which is the transfer of an electron from one transition-metal ion to another via the conduction or valence band. The iron can take the form Fe2+ or Fe3+, while titanium generally takes the form Ti4+. If Fe2+ and Ti4+ ions are substituted for Al3+, localized areas of charge imbalance are created. An electron transfer from Fe2+ and Ti4+ can cause a change in the valence state of both. Because of the valence change there is a specific change in energy for the electron, and electromagnetic energy is absorbed. The wavelength of the energy absorbed corresponds to yellow light. When this light is subtracted from incident white light, the complementary color blue results. Sometimes when atomic spacing is different in different directions there is resulting blue-green dichroism.

Intervalence charge transfer is a process that produces a strong colored appearance at a low percentage of impurity. While at least 1% chromium must be present in corundum before the deep red ruby color is seen, sapphire blue is apparent with the presence of only 0.01% of titanium and iron.

Sapphires can be treated by several methods to enhance and improve their clarity and color.  It is common practice to heat natural sapphires to improve or enhance color. This is done by heating the sapphires in furnaces to temperatures between 500 and 1,800 °C (932 and 3,272 °F) for several hours, or by heating in a nitrogen-deficient atmosphere oven for seven days or more. Upon heating, the stone becomes more blue in color, but loses some of the rutile inclusions (silk). When high temperatures are used, the stone loses all silk (inclusions) and it becomes clear under magnification. The inclusions in natural stones are easily seen with a jeweler’s loupe. Evidence of sapphire and other gemstones being subjected to heating goes back at least to Roman times.  Un-heated natural stones are somewhat rare and will often be sold accompanied by a certificate from an independent gemological laboratory attesting to “no evidence of heat treatment”.

 

Rhodolite

Image result for Rhodolite

Rhodolite is a varietal name for rose-pink to red mineral pyrope, a species in the garnet group. It was first described from Cowee ValleyMacon CountyNorth Carolina. The name is derived from the Greek “rhodon” for “rose-like”, in common with other pink mineral types (e.g. rhodochrositerhodonite). This coloration, and the commonly inclusion-free nature of garnet from this locality, has led to rhodolite being used as a gemstone. Rhodolite like other varietal names is not officially recognized as a mineralogical term, but rather used as an accepted trade name.

Mineralogically and chemically, rhodolite garnets are members of the pyrope-almandine solid-solution series, with an approximate bulk garnet composition of Py70Al30.

Rhodolites from different occurrences around the world have been characterized by crystal chemical and absorption spectral analysis showing that besides iron such elements as manganese, chromium and vanadium may effect the colour of rhodolites.

Rhodolite garnets appear as transparent red-pink-purplish gemstones, including all the different colour shades between violet and red. The colors from different rhodolite sources may vary from a lavender pink to raspberry rose or raspberry red and from purplish-violet (grape) to purplish red.

The color of rhodolites, combined with their brilliance, durability, and the accessibility of stones with no visible inclusions have brought about some demand for the stone in the jewelry industry. Rhodolites used in jewelry are generally faceted to make good use of their brilliance, though they also exist in cabochon form.

Some rhodolites will change color from purplish to a hessonite brown when heated to a temperature of 600 °C. This process cannot be reversed.