Guide to Gemstones

Guide to Gemstones

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.

Gemstone Index

Alexandrite Gemstone Jewelry


June Birthstone

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.

Originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s, it’s now found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil, but this gem is exceptionally rare and valuable.


Amethyst Gemstone Pendant


February Birthstone

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 Gemstone Ring with Diamonds


March Birthstone

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 Gemstone


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 Jewelry


April Birthstone

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.

Finding the perfect diamond is not something to take lightly. Visit our Diamond Education section for tips and information on how to find the diamond that is right for you.


Emerald Gemstone Ring with Diamonds


May Birthstone

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 Colored Diamond Jewelry


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 Gemstones Ring


January Birthstone

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 Gemstone Jewelry


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.

Wearing a stunning piece of Jade jewelry is sure to make anyone ‘green’ with envy.


Blue Lapis Gemstones


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.

Once you cast your sights on this gem you’re sure to be entranced by its beauty.

» Take a peek: Lapis Lazuli Jewelry

» Read More: Trends in Blue Lapis


Moonstone Gemstone Jewelry


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.

» Take a peek: Moonstone Jewelry


Lapis Lazuli Gemstone Jewelry


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.

» Take a peek: Morganite Jewelry


Onyx Gemstone Jewelry


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.


Black Opal Gemstone Jewelry


October Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Opal Jewelry


Paraiba Tourmaline Gemstone Jewelry


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.

» Take a peek: Paraiba Tourmaline Jewelry


Pearl Jewelry


June Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Pearl Jewelry


Peridot Gemstone Pendant


August Birthstone

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.

» Take a Peek: Peridot Gemstone Jewelry


Rubellite Gemstone Jewelry


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.

» Take a peek: Rubellite Gemstone Jewelry


Ruby Burma Gemstone Ring


July Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Ruby Jewelry Collection


Ceylon Blue Sapphire Necklace


September Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Sapphire Gemstone Jewelry


Spinel Gemstone Jewelry


August Birthstone

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 Gemstone Ring


December Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Tanzanite Gemstone Jewelry


Topaz Gemstone Jewelry


November Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Topaz Gemstone Jewelry


Tourmaline Gemstone Jewlery


October Birthstone

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.

With Tourmaline available in so many colors, you’re sure to find one in your favorite color.

» Take a peek: Tourmaline Gemstone Jewelry


Turquoise Gemstone Jewelry


December Birthstone

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.

» Take a peek: Turquoise Gemstone Jewelry


Blue Zircon Gemstone Jewelry


December Birthstone

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.

What are precious stones?

What are precious stones?

Precious stones are defined as visually appealing gemstones created from rocks or minerals. Often used for jewelry and fashion accents, this term was created in the mid-1800’s to refer to four specific stones; diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. All precious stones are translucent and are valued by the richness of their color, except for the diamond, which has a higher value based on being colorless.

Their rarity, beauty, and method in which they are produced all add to the allure of a precious stone. Any accessory containing a precious stone would be deemed sophisticated and worn by someone of high class.

What is the difference between a precious stone and a semi-precious stone?

Precious stones and semi-precious stones are terms that were created in the mid-1800’s to describe gemstones, which were categorized solely based on their rarity. Stones found in abundance were labeled semi-precious, and a stone that was rare would be categorized as precious and more valuable. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds were classified as precious stones. All other stones are classified as semi-precious stones. The distinction between precious and semi-precious stones are their rarity and their quality.

Despite this distinction and classification of precious stones vs. semi-precious stones, it is not necessarily true that a precious stones is always more valuable or rare than a semi-precious stone. For ex. a green garnet known as Tsavorite is classified as a semi-precious stone, however, it is more valuable than an emerald, which is classified as a precious stone. Now, value is measured by several different factors, and precious stones often do not hold more value than semi-precious stones. However, the label is still valuable and is used worldwide to promote and sell jewelry.

List of precious stones. Descriptions of diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire


The diamond is the most popular of all gemstones. The diamond is the highest valued precious stone, which takes millions of years to form. A diamond is a mineral compound made of pure carbon and is the hardest natural substance on the planet. Diamonds are so strong, they can only be cut or polished by another diamond. The name itself is derived from the Greek word “adamus,” which means “invincible.” Diamonds are typically colorless, but yellow, brown, green, gray, black, pink, blue, red, and purple stones can also be found along the diamond color spectrum. Jewelry-grade diamonds are rated based on color from bluish-white to yellow, and on clarity, which ranges from pure to various levels of flawed. Diamonds are measured in carats—the higher the carat weight and purity level of a stone, the more valuable the gem. The diamond is the birthstone for April.


Known for its brilliant green color, emerald can also have blue or yellow undertones and loses all color when subjected to high heat. Their brittle exterior makes emeralds difficult to shape.The earliest emeralds were mined in Upper Egypt as early as 2,000 B.C. They were mined throughout the reign of Alexander the Great and were well-loved and collected by Cleopatra. The Aztecs and Incas also coveted emeralds, and the Moguls of India revered them so much they inscribed the gems with sacred text to be used to ward off evil. Historically, emeralds have been mined from Russia, Austria, Australia, and Norway. Today, the majority of emeralds are found in Brazil, Zambia, and Columbia. The emerald is the birthstone for May.


The ruby is a pink to deep red precious gemstone. The name comes from the Latin word for red, ruber. Rubies are said to attract good luck for the wearer. Ancient Hindus believed rubies were a sign of protection from evil. Today, the ruby has come to symbolize love and passion. Rubies were also highly prized by ancient Chinese warriors who were known to wear rubies on their armor. Most rubies today are mined in Africa and Southeast Asia. The largest mined ruby weighing in at four pounds, the Liberty Bell Ruby, was stolen in a heist in 2011. The ruby is the birthstone for July.


Sapphires come in a variety of colors, but are mostly associated with blue hues. A sapphire of another color, like pink, white or yellow, is generally called a fancy sapphire. The blue sapphire represents peace and serenity. It is seen many times in ancient religious writing to symbolize purity, wisdom, loyalty and faith. Sapphires are mined throughout Africa and Asia, but can be found in Australia and the U.S. The sapphire is the birthstone for September.

Famous precious stones


A rare blue diamond, The Heart of Eternity, is a famous precious stone currently owned by the De Beers Group. Now at 27.64 carats, this heart-shaped wonder was originally crafted from a 777 carat stone.

Another famous blue diamond is The Hope Diamond, previous owned by Evalyn Walsh McLean and known for causing her bad luck.


A well known ruby is the Liberty Bell Ruby, originally discovered in east Africa in the 1950’s. At 8,500 carats, it was valued at two million dollars. This stone had been sculpted into the shape of the Liberty Bell, but was stolen from a jewelry store in Delaware in November of 2011. It is the largest known ruby in the world.


The Patricia Emerald, at 632 carats, is the largest uncut emerald in existence. Named after the mine owner’s daughter, this gemstone was discovered in Columbia in 1920 and can be seen on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.


The largest known sapphire, titled the Black Star of Queensland, is black in color and was discovered in Australia in the 1930’s. At 733 carats, it was once on display at the Smithsonian and then at the Royal Ontario Museum. It has since been purchased by an unknown buyer, and is no longer displayed.

How is the value determined for a precious stone?

Value is determined for a precious stone by an experienced professional using only a magnifying tool and a trained eye. To help consumers understand what these professionals are looking for and how they come about each value, the “four Cs” were developed; cut, color, clarity, and carats. Each criteria holds a different meaning for each stone. Other than diamonds, the leading factor when determining a precious stone’s value is color. When analyzing diamonds, the cut is the leading factor.


Precious Stones

20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Crystals

20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Crystals

The ones inside comets forged by the Sun, the ones buried under Manhattan, and the “crystal” ones that aren’t crystal at all


 It’s all about the rhythm: Crystals are repeating, three-dimensional arrangements of atoms, ions, or molecules.

Almost any solid material can crystallize—even DNA. Chemists from New York University, Purdue University, and the Argonne National Laboratory recently created DNA crystals large enough to see with the naked eye. The work could have applications in nanoelectronics and drug development.

One thing that is not a crystal: leaded “crystal” glass, like the vases that so many newlyweds dread. (Glass consists of atoms or molecules all in a jumble, not in the well-patterned order that defines a crystal.)

 The oldest known pieces of our planet’s surface are 4.4-billion-year-old zircon crystals from the Jack Hills of western Australia.

5  The center of the earth was once thought to be a single, 1,500-mile-wide iron crystal. Seismic studies now show that the inner core is not a single solid but perhaps an aggregate of smaller crystals.

 Tiny silicate crystals, which need high temperatures to form, have been found inside icy comets from the solar system’s distant, chilly edges. Powerful flares from the sun may have provided the necessary heat.

7  In Chihuahua, 
Mexico, a limestone cavern 1,000 feet below the surface contains the largest crystals in the world: glittering gypsum formations up to 6 feet in diameter and 36 feet long, weighing as much as 55 tons. You may be sitting in a gypsum cave right now: It is a primary component of drywall.

 Are the streets of New York paved with gold? No, but the bedrock schist beneath them is studded with opal, beryl, chrysoberyl, garnet, and three kinds of tourmaline.

10  In 1885 a garnet weighing nearly 10 pounds was discovered beneath 35th Street near Broadway, close to today’s Macy’s store. According to urban lore, it was unearthed either during subway construction or by a laborer digging a sewer.

11 Cheaper by the pound: The so-called Subway Garnet was sold within a day, reportedly for $100—just $2,300 in today’s dollars.

12  The unit of measure for gemstones had humble beginnings. “Carat” comes from the Greek keration, or “carob bean,” which was used as a standard for weighing small quantities. It is equivalent to 200 milligrams, or about 0.007 ounce.

13  When Richard Burton bought Elizabeth Taylor the heart-shaped Taj-Mahal diamond, he is said to have bragged, “It has so many carats, it’s almost a turnip.”

14 A “fancy intense pink” diamond recently set a world record when it was purchased at auction for $46 million by a London jeweler.

15  The Cullinan diamond is the largest known gem diamond—or, actually, was. It weighed 3,106 carats, or nearly a pound and a half, when it was discovered in South Africa in 1905, but it has since been cut into more than 100 stones.

16  The Cullinan stones, all flawless, are now part of the British Regalia. The largest, a 530-carat behemoth, is set in one of the British royal scepters.

17  For the rest of us, there is crystallized sodium chloride, otherwise known as salt. We are literally awash in it: If the water were evaporated from the world’s oceans, we’d be left with 4.5 million cubic miles of salt, equivalent to a cube measuring 165 miles on each side.

18  Another crystal for commoners: sugar. Each American eats an average of more than 130 pounds of it per year.

19  As if sugar’s ties to obesity and tooth decay weren’t enough, new research out of Imperial College London suggests that it contributes to high blood pressure, too.

20 Snow is near-pure crystallized water, but when it collects on the ground it acts as a reservoir for atmospheric pollutants such as mercury and soot. So you probably shouldn’t eat the white snow either.

Don’t Get Fixated On Spot Price When Buying Silver Coins

Don’t Get Fixated On Spot Price When Buying Silver Coins

Silver investors tend to check the current spot price before making a purchase of silver coins. That’s a logical starting point, as the cost for physical metal is usually – but not always – related to spot.

Don’t expect former premiums to remain in place when spot plunges. Why does this happen? Lower prices means fewer sellers, so dealers have to raise their bids in relation to spot to purchase new supplies.

I would be very thrilled to have a pre-1965 silver dime for every time I’ve heard someone mindlessly blather about how they expected to obtain silver at around spot right after prices took a substantial plunge. Since spot (a paper price) can be and is manipulated by traders, it’s not a rock-solid indicator of what the metal is going to cost in the real world. Think of spot as theory and retail prices as reality. In precious metals and life in general, reality rules and theory drools.

90% silver coinsSometimes demand for the real thing increases faster than spot prices. That means some short-term hikes in premiums. We’re not talking about a massive surge in buying, but a moderate bump in retail demand. Since there are no great hoards of physical product waiting to be dumped into the hands of the general public, these moves take place for a week or two every few years.

Web sites and chat rooms are full of people who say they will buy silver coins once the price drops a few dollars or more. Those who make such statements usually assume they will be able to obtain the metal at something near spot, but recent developments prove once again that reality stomps on theory when dealing with physical product.

Bags ($1,000 face value, or 715 troy ounces) of pre-1965 dimes, quarters and half dollars sold for three to four percent above melt in December 2012 when silver was in the US$33 range. At that time, buy prices ranged just below spot to spot.

Fast forward to now for an entirely different situation. Two bullion industry market makers are currently paying significant premiums over spot for 90 percent silver.

Even those who are willing to pay the new levels may not be able to acquire silver. “Out of stock” is a common phrase at silver coin web site listings, and the same sad news has been dispensed to many potential buyers at local coin shops and over the phone.

One small silver coin dealer obtains much of his product from a large Midwestern source. An order for $500 face was placed and accepted last week. When the buyer went to pick up his order, he was told that just $250 face was available. Since this wholesaler is known for his utter dependability, this was something of a surprise.

silver coins, bullion coinsThe supply/demand and price situation in silver Eagles and Maple Leafs is similar to what is happening with 90 percent. Premiums and prices are moving up, and those who hesitate need to get out of the way as others in line are willing to pay the going rate.

Need more proof that spot numbers are not the ultimate guide to real world pricing? What if spot dropped to $15 tomorrow? Do you think that you could obtain silver for $5 or $6 an ounce over spot? Only the delusional and uninformed would expect to find silver in such a scenario.

Spot will have less influence on the retail market as the frequent manipulation of paper prices continues and public awareness of such trickery expands. Toss in growth in demand for physical silver coins coupled with tight supplies, and precious metals buyers may have to do a little work to determine fair prices in the future.

How can a person find such information? It’s very easy in the information age. Check a few major dealer web sites to get their buy/sell spreads. When postage fees are added to the total, small buyers can do as well or better making purchases of silver coins at local shops rather than going the mail-order route.

So when is the right time to buy silver, and what would be a fair premium to pay? That’s a decision (emphasis on being proactive rather than passive) every individual has to make. Keep in mind that buying silver isn’t an all or nothing proposition.

What if someone wants to spend a few thousand dollars on the metal, but they aren’t sure about pulling the trigger? Put a portion of the funds into silver and see what develops in the future. Don’t expect to hit a home run on every buy, but a steady stream of singles and doubles will win the silver game in the long run.

Don’t Get Fixated On Spot Price When Buying Silver Coins

Why can’t I buy silver coins at spot price?

Why can’t I buy silver coins at spot price?

The spot price of silver is actually what a commercial buyer is willing to pay for a very large shipment 1 to 2 months in the future. It is used as a guideline by pretty much everyone. Everyday I get emails from buyers wanting to buy my 90% silver coins at melt value. I hope this explains why I can’t.

If you walk into a coin shop and offer to sell say $1.00 face value of 90% silver US coins the dealer will most likely offer you 10-20% below spot. He will then resell it at 10-20% above spot. People have the misconception that because spot is a certain amount that they can buy at that price. It doesn’t work that way. If a coin dealer were to pay you spot for your silver coins then resell it to someone else at spot where’s his profit?

I get many offers everyday with the bidder telling me what silver spot is and how much silver value the lot has in it that he is making a offer on. Again, people are under the misconception that they can buy silver coins at melt value. You may get lucky in a auction here or there for small amounts and actually get them at melt.

I buy $1000 face value bags at coin shows and from estate buyers. Even at the large volumes I normally pay generally $1.00 to $2.00 OVER melt value. Once a month I rent a table at a local coin show where I buy from the public. I have to pay this premium over melt from them as the other dealers in the same room are willing to pay them the same. If I were to sell these coins on ebay at melt I would make no profit. In fact I would lose money.

Last but not least, buyers seem to not realize that ebay sellers have to pay ebay fees, paypal fees, and shipping. Ebay fees and paypal is basically 10% to 15% of the total transaction amount. In order to sell at melt that means I would have to have paid 85% of melt for my coins and even then when selling at melt my net profit would be ZERO after all my expenses. Coin shops and estate buyers can buy at or close to melt but they have a shop to pay for,advertising, etc and if they sold at melt on ebay again their profit would be ZERO after all their ebay and paypal expenses, not to mention the cost of having a physical store. All coin shops have plenty of buyers willing to pay melt, so why would a coin dealer list coins at melt on ebay and have to pay 10% to 15% ebay fees?

I hope this little article of mine helps you understand why ebay sellers will not and cannot sell silver coins at melt.

8 Valuable Coins That Could Be Hiding in Your Change

8 Valuable Coins That Could Be Hiding in Your Change

You never know what a coin might amount to.
You never know what a coin might amount to.
Take a closer look before you dump that handful of pennies and nickels into the tip jar — you don’t need to find a Revolutionary War-era coin to make a fortune from your change.They’re harder to find each year, but there are several valuable coins floating around that aren’t all that old. They’re often valuable for vastly different reasons — like the World War II-era coins minted from atypical metals, or double-printed pennies — but each one is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

Check out these eight coins that are worth a lot more than their intended value.

1. 2004 Wisconsin state quarter with extra leaf

Value: Up to $300

Find an average Wisconsin state quarter from 2004, and that will get you one-fourth of a bag of chips. Find one with either the high or low leaf error, and you can get a whole lot more.

The 50 State Quarters series ran from 1999 until 2008, with special designs representing each state. Wisconsin’s quarter came out in 2004; the reverse design features a cow, a wheel of cheese and a partially husked ear of corn lurking in the back.

It would be too easy to make a corny joke about this coin. Too cheesy?

However, some the coins have an extra line below the front left leaf, which looks like another leaf entirely. There are two varieties you should be looking out for: the high leaf and low leaf.

This ad will end in 80 seconds.
Return to the original video

2. 1995 double die penny

Value: $20 – $50


This penny has a double-printed obverse (heads side) that makes the “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” look blurry. The error has happened before, in 1969 and 1972, and those versions of the coins are much more valuable.

3. 1942-1945 silver nickel

Value: 56 cents – $12.25

During World War II, the United States needed to save as much nickel as possible for military uses. Consequently, it started minting nickels made of 35% silver. Melting down pennies and nickels is a federal offense, but the coin might still fetch you enough for a decent lunch, if it’s in good condition.

4. 1943 steel penny

Value: 45 cents – $10

1943 Steel Penny
Pennies were made from steel in 1943 only.


Pennies were made from steel during wartime, for the same reasons nickels were made partially from silver — steel pennies helped preserve copper for World War II. However, the switch only lasted one year.

5. Ben Franklin half-dollar

Value: $12 – $125

Franklin Half-Dollar
Easy to notice, but hard to find.


In 1948, the U.S. mint began circulating half-dollar coins with images of Ben Franklin and an eagle — which is funny, considering Franklin opposed the bald eagle’s nomination as the nation’s bird, in favor of a wild turkey.

Franklin’s portrait on the coin was replaced by John F. Kennedy in 1964, following the president’s 1963 assassination.

6. 1932-1964 silver quarter

Value: $7 – $65

Between 1932 and 1964, quarters were 90% silver and 10% copper. These silver quarters look like any pre-state quarter 25-cent piece, but are worth a lot more if they’re in the right condition.

7. ‘In God We Rust’ 2005 Kansas state quarter

Value: Up to $100

Remember: Always clean your machine.


While it might seem like a mint employee’s rogue political statement, these coins are actually just the result of grease preventing a clean pressing.

8. Presidential dollar coin with lettering errors

Value: $20 – $45

These Washington dollars are missing key inscriptions.


In 2007, the U.S. Mint began printing a series of dollar coins featuring presidents. Many of the early coins, especially those with George Washington, have errant or missing lettering along the edge of the coin.

How to Find Valuable Silver in Your Pocket Change

How to Find Valuable Silver in Your Pocket Change

The various types of hobbies that people engage in have an amazing range; from running to reading to collecting, the number of activities are endless. But finding profit in these many hobbies is not easy to do.

But if you are the man in this story, your hobby returns profit nearly every time. This nameless monetary vigilante had his son upload a video to YouTube of his hobby for the whole world to see. He buys large quantities of rolls of dimes from various banks and looks through each roll for ones minted with silver.

The reason behind this is for bullion profit. Before 1965, all dimes were made out of 90% silver by the U.S. Mint. Afterwards, the Mint began using copper and devaluing the coins.

His inspection of one roll takes only a few minutes, as he can spot a true silver dime from the rest fairly simply by looking at the entire stack grouped together. The cleaner, smoother-ridged coin that looks like the color silver – in contrast to the dirtied, more-ridged and copper-based coins – is what he’s looking for.

silver dime rolls


“I am averaging one silver dime out of every $100,” the Bread Scavenger (as the video below titles him) says. But within this day’s dime inspecting within the mini-documentary, he happens to find more silver dimes than his average.

He explains that he always keeps around $300 to $400 of cash on him to buy up a bank’s dime rolls. He indicates that he only stops by these banks when he has other errands to do and does not go out of his way to collect these large bags of dimes.

After inspecting every dime, he keeps the true silver dimes and then returns the “worthless” dimes back to the bank’s coin collector, emphasizing on NOT using Coinstar (which deducts 9.8% of total amount counted in the U.S.) This deducted fee would then negate any profit he made from the silver dimes he extracted from the rolls, therefore he only uses particular banks’ coin counting machines to receive all his cash back.

This hobby may sound tedious but with training, he says, it only takes a few minutes to inspect hundreds of dollars worth of dimes.

As for profit? With every silver dime he finds, he says they are worth about $2 or higher, as the cost of silver is consistently rising. So about twenty times the dime’s face value comes from just one silver dime he finds.

“Occasionally I will find some really old ones and they will have a numismatic value over their bullion value,” he tells the camera. “It’s coin collecting and sometimes an old coin will have a higher value to collectors than they do for their silver content.”

His reasoning is simple: “If I left $100 in the bank for a year it might make a few cents in interest, but if I keep taking that hundred dollars over, and over, and over again, I could double and triple it with these silver dimes with the same hundred dollars.”

The pre-1965 dimes are made of 90% silver and 10% copper, and following the Coinage Act of 1965, the dime’s silver content was completely removed. It changed to a clad “sandwich” of copper between two layers of an alloy of 75% and 25% nickel. These new dimes that many of us possess hold no precious metals in them and with the prices of gold and silver continuing to go through the roof, any amount of precious metal you can get your hands on – especially for free like the star of this documentary– than it is 100% worth the investment.

It is said that the U.S. could actually save even more money from the Mint if they stopped minting pennies and nickels with copper, zinc and nickel and simply minted with steel. Reestablishing our coins to be made without these mined metals would save the U.S. as much as $207 million a year.

In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to personally profit from precious metals that sit in our couch cushions and piggy banks, it’s just a matter of finding them.

21 things Texans do that might be weird anywhere else

  • 21 things Texans do that might be weird anywhere else


Drive pickup trucks
Sure a lot of rural residents own one, but Texas is so special it often gets its own special edition, like the Ram Texas Ranger.
  • Open carrySeeing people just casually walking around with assault rifles can be a bit startling at first. Photo: Associated Press


Open carry
Seeing people just casually walking around with assault rifles can be a bit startling at first.
  • Wear homecoming mumsIf you're wondering if you should put on a bigger bear, a cowbell or even more ribbon, the answer is yes. Photo: Gary Fountain, For The Chronicle


Wear homecoming mums
If you’re wondering if you should put on a bigger bear, a cowbell or even more ribbon, the answer is yes.
  • Take bluebonnet photosIs pulling over on the side of the road to take pictures in flowers normal in any other state? Photo: Karen Warren, Staff / © 2015 Houston Chronicle


Take bluebonnet photos
Is pulling over on the side of the road to take pictures in flowers normal in any other state?
  • Say y'allIt's a surefire sign that y'all are speaking to a Texan. Photo: Mayra Beltran / © 2011 Houston Chronicle


Say y’all
It’s a surefire sign that y’all are speaking to a Texan.

  • Eat tacos for every mealBarbacoa in the morning, carne guisada for lunch and fajitas for dinner. It could happen. Photo: Eric Kayne, For The Houston Chronicle / © 2011 Eric Kayne


 Eat tacos for every meal
Barbacoa in the morning, carne guisada for lunch and fajitas for dinner. It could happen.

  • Obsess over all things WhataburgerNext to honey butter chicken biscuits, cute bundles of joy can also be a great joy. Photo: Courtesy/Allie Rae Photography / Allie Rae Photography


Obsess over all things Whataburger
Next to honey butter chicken biscuits, cute bundles of joy can also be a great joy. 

  • Harbor deep rivalriesThe Texas A&M Aggies parted ways years ago with the Big 12 conference, leaving their rival Texas Longhorns behind. Despite this, the rivalry still hasn't died. Photo: Karen Warren, Chronicle


Harbor deep rivalries
The Texas A&M Aggies parted ways years ago with the Big 12 conference, leaving their rival Texas Longhorns behind. Despite this, the rivalry still hasn’t died.
  • Style big hairDon't care. As the saying went, the higher the hair, the closer to heaven. Photo: Larry Busacca, Getty Images / 2014 Getty Images
  • Take long road trips So long as they're in the same state. Fun fact, the drive to El Paso is only about 8 miles shorter than going to Mexico City. Photo: Google Maps


Take long road trips
So long as they’re in the same state. Fun fact, the drive to El Paso is only about 8 miles shorter than going to Mexico City.

  • Fry everythingYou're looking at a fried brownie ball from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Delicious. Photo: James Nielsen, Staff / © 2015 Houston Chronicle


Fry everything
You’re looking at a fried brownie ball from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Delicious. 
  • Display Texas prideWhether it's a tattoo, a flag in the front yard of even a swimsuit top, Texans show love for their state flag in all sorts of creative ways. Photo: Jorge Valdez


Display Texas pride
Whether it’s a tattoo, a flag in the front yard of even a swimsuit top, Texans show love for their state flag in all sorts of creative ways.

13 insane facts about the state of Texas (14 Photos)

13 insane facts about the state of Texas (14 Photos)

22 Jokes About Texas That Are Actually Funny

22 Jokes About Texas That Are Actually Funny

When you can laugh about the weather, the guns and the food, you’re a true Texan at heart.

If you can laugh at being shirtless one day and wearing gloves the next, the types of food people eat, and how the rest of the world views Texas, you are obviously a Texan at heart who can appreciate these one-liners:

1. Yeah, Texans love their meat.
michigan memes


2. The diet is actually pretty varied here!
michigan memes

3. The heat can be unbearable.
michigan memesHot in Texas

Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

4. It’s funny because it’s true
michigan memes

5. A funny way to look at how Texas views itself.
michigan memes

6. And here’s what Texas thinks of the rest of the U.S.
michigan memes

7. Speeders in Texas beware!
michigan memes


8. Unfortunately, this is a common joke.
michigan memes

9. Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?
michigan memes

10. We’re such a misunderstood bunch.
michigan memes

11. This is also a common joke we share.
michigan memes

12. El Paso is an interesting place.
michigan memes

13. This is what Americans think of Texas. 
michigan memes


14. This describes a lot of our neighbors for sure.
michigan memes

15. Our coach is nuts, but we love him.
michigan memes


16. We all know someone like this.
michigan memes


17. It’s just not the same down south.
michigan memes


18. Look familiar?
michigan memes


19. We’ve all been there.
michigan memes


20. We can all laugh at this one.
michigan memes


21. It’s funny because it’s not too far from the truth.
michigan memes


22. God Bless Texas
michigan memes


22 Jokes About Texas That Are Actually Funny