Man wants them for their long life, their strength, their intransigence and their brilliance, their smoothness and their impenetrability, whether whole or broken. They are fire and water in the same immortal transparency, sometimes seen with the iris, sometimes in a mist. Whosoever holds them in his palm carries with him the purity, the cold and the distance of the stars, a great serenity.
The Enigmatic Agate
I am talking about stones. On the edge of a dream, a ferment, an image; a stone that can appear as a wisp of hair, opaque and stiff like the head of a drowned man, which has not been driven away by the water . . . there in a blue canal where the life force becomes more visible and more vulnerable. This text by Roger Callous expresses the quintessence of the universe of agates. These stones have fascinated mankind since antiquity.
Their name derives from the Sicilian river, the Achates, where they were first discovered in ancient times. The cornelian, a red agate, was worn as a magic amulet and talisman to protect against sickness—hemorrhages in particular. As with coral, this superstition was linked to its red color.
Agates were engraved with initials (intaglio engraving motif) or chiseled and sculpted in relief to make cameos.
AN INFINITE VARIETY
Agates form an enigmatic labyrinth in which the collectors can easily lose them-selves. There are so many types: gray, amber, brown, golden, coppery red, milky while such as chalcedony, black, and striped with distinct bands. Onyx is the black version of agate.
While they can never be used as jewelry, one of the most fascinating agates is certainly the water agate. Imagine a geode perfectly enclosed like a stone reliquary enclosing immemorial water, "the water so hidden you can only see the shadows moving, only your ears can hear the lapping," (Roger Callous) which was deposited in the interior when the universe was formed. Alas, a slight shock or a miniscule crack might cause all of this to evaporate forever.
Eye agate beads called ''Dzi" have been sought after since antiquity as magic stones, especially the sacred agates from Tibet that ward off the evil eye. These beads bear a pattern of different colored layers, ranging from brown to while. They are cut and polished into cabochons, maximizing the dark spot at the center that looks like an eye. Collectors will fight for them, paying thousands of dollars for those that are perfectly shaped and well cut.
The nicolo agate ("small eye") is a variant of the eye agate bead, with gray blue layers against a darker background.
In the eighteenth century, moss agates, also called dendritic or plantlike, were highly valued, as they showed capricious patterns suggestive of vegetation, such as lichens or petrified trees, imprisoned for eternity in a mineral coating.
Charms, amulets, and fetishes
Since ancient times, people have adorned themselves with figures that serve both as ornaments and as amulets. Most jewelers carry a collection of good luck charms. Collectors prefer to unearth them in secondhand stores and flea markets.
IT LOOKS LIKE AN AGATE!
Glass has been used to imitate agate since ancient times. There are certain old beads that are so well made that they may fool you. Their surface usually shows signs of wear, and if you knock the bead against your teeth, it does not make the same sound as a stone. Also the color seems "painted," and there will be a sort of central core (where the thread passes through) that is lighter.
The power of the skin
When jewels set with precious stones are worn against the skin, they can subtly change color, acquiring an unexpected luster.
Spinel, Thorn of Fire
Called "little thorn" because of the sharp points of its crystals, this Atone was often confused with the ruby.
Spinels exhibit many inclusions and sometimes show dark §-pots called macles."
A GREAT DIVERSITY OF COLOR
Spinels come in a wide range of deep reds, but they may also be pink, gray, blue, green, or colorless.
The lively red spinels used to be called "balas rubies." This name is now prohibited to avoid confusion.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Spinel is a relatively hard Stone, but due to its inclusions, which can be numerous, it may become fragile. In India, jewelers confirm that spinal improves with delicate oil baths. The oil gives the Stone a glow and can fill in certain very obvious inclusions if the bath is hot and long.
Quartz and Rock Crystal
Quartz is a large family that includes many stones such as amethyst, aventurine, citrine, and rock crystal. In ancient times, ft was believed that rock crystal was formed from eternal ice fossilized at the top of mountains. Its Greek name, krysallos, Means "ice."
While rock crystal is as transparent in color as its water source, quartz can also be blue, mauve, pink, yellow, pale green (lemon quartz), smoky brown (smoky quartz), or black.
Quartz sometimes exhibits inclusions. When these appear in the shape of golden or copper hairs, the quartz is called rutilated quartz or Venus' hair stone.
* Clasps and fasteners
Depending on their shape, the period when they were created, and their weight, earrings come with all types of clasps. The swan neck is the simplest and oldest style: a bent metal stem that passes through the pierced hole of the ear.
AMETHYST, A HIGHLY PAIL ED STONE
Amethyst is mauve or violet quartz. Its name, of Greek origin, means "the Stone that preserves from drunkenness" as these ancient people believed that the violet color (like the flower of the same name) prote6led them from inebriation!
Its color ranges from pale mauve, almost pink, to the deepest violet. Amethyst was used by priests, as ft was believed to be spiritual and protect from all drunkenness. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was often cut into heart shapes, a talisman that was sup-posed to bring good luck.
When quartz is beautiful amber, cognac, or a golden yellow color, it is called citrine. Citrine should not be confused with noble topaz (a term used by jewelers), which is amber and pinkish yellow and is much more rare and valuable.
Citrine has been used often since the beginning of the nineteenth century because of its sunlike color. This gem is reputed to enhance artistic endeavors and creativity and to generate energy.
The Garnet, Stone of Bohemia
Does its name come from the fruit of the pomegranate tree, whose translucent seeds are colored in shades of red and pink, or from the Latin word granatus, meaning "stones of grain"? Etymologists have not reached an agreement on this subject. Highly valued in ancient times, it embellished many royal jewels. Due to its deep red color, ft was some-times called a carbuncle.
Found often in Bohemia, where there were a large number of Stonecutting workshops, garnets adorned many pieces of Austro-Hungarian jewelry that were made with gold, vermeil, or silver niel -loware. The stones were cut into cabochons or facets and were sometimes combined with turquoise in a clinquant setting—using a metal foil to enliven their sparkle or simply gilded at the base.
Garnets and carbuncles
Garnets have been highly valued over many centuries for their deep red color. This color, which is as red as blood, has contributed to belief in the garnet's protective and magical attributes. It was once said that the garnet symbolized courage and energy. It is sometimes called a carbuncle stone (when it is a bright red).
RED, ORANGE, GREEN
The most common garnets are deep, dark red, bright red, or pink tinted with mauve. However, there are other varieties that are more rare and valuable, which occur in different hues.
The dermatoid garnet is a deep green color. It sparkles like a diamond, and hence its name is derived from demant, which means "diamond" in old German. Its value can be equal to that of a diamond.
Another highly sought-after garnet is the tsavorite, which is mint green in color and categorized as a grossularite. This type of garnet is the color of green absinthe, evoking gooseberries; hence it is often called a gooseberry garnet.
Certain grossular garnets may also be orange: the mandarin-colored stones are the most highly prized by jewelers for their vivacity and luminosity.
IT LOOKS LIKE A GARNET!
Since ancient times, glass was used to imitate garnets. When viewed in the light of day, miniscule spherical bubbles appear in the glass.
To ensure that the stones are authentic, here is some advice from an old book of magic: "You must be fully undressed, wearing only your stone. Slather your body in honey and lie down near some flies or waifs. If they do not come near you, you know you have a garnet; but if the contrary occurs, it is a fake." The water drop test seems more convincing!
Synthetic stones and artificially colored glass are used to imitate the tsavorite and the demantoid garnets, which are currently in great demand.
* Jade is not always green
Jade exists in an infinite range of colors, from black to mauve, and from yellow to pink. It is a stone that has been often imitated with glass, resin, Bakelite, and various other materials. Imperial jade, which is an emerald green color-quite rare and very expensive-is one of the most commonly imitated jades.
The World of Jade
In ancient China, people would ruin themselves for rare and precious stones. Jade was one of those stones. The emblem of perfection, it symbolized the five essential Chinese virtues: charity, modesty, courage, justice, and wisdom. The incarnation of yang (strength), jade was also the stone in which the Pi symbol was cut—a flat disk with a hole in the center through which the emperor would look at the world. It was also the stone of the imperial seal.
Its name is affiliated with superstition: this green stone, the color of bile, was believed to heal ailments of the liver. In Spanish, it was called pieta de hijada (stone of the liver), from which the English word "jade" was derived. According to lapidaries, there are two types of jade: Burmese jadeite and Chinese nephrite (literally meaning the "kidney Stone"). Jadeite is greener than nephrite and is sometimes tinted with tones of brown and yellow.
THE GREEN IS WHAT COUNTS
There is a variety of jadeite that is extremely precious and sought after as much as imperial jade. This stone is literally the color of emerald green and was reserved in the past solely for the emperor of China.
Jadeite appears in a large range of opaque and translucent colors: luminous green jade and white with varying degrees of green, pink, mauve, gray, reddish brown, and gray blue.
Nephrite tends to be yellow-tinted green, bright green, dark green, grayish or creamy white, or brown yellow.
IT LOOKS LIKE JADE!
Some stones have a similar appearance to jade. This is the case with serpentine—a green, veined marble—as well as chalcedony, which is milky white or green. Glass is often used to imitate jade, but has spherical bubbles that are easily recognizable.
Attention! Fragile !
If you own a jade bracelet, wear it on the wrist of the arm you use less. You will thus avoid banging or breaking it when you go about your daily routine.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
As it is a porous stone, jade is relatively fragile. It does not react well to alcohol or lotions: do not fray perfume or apply lotion on your neck before putting on a jade necklace.
Be careful not to hit your jade against a hard material, as it will crack and break easily. Some superstitious people believe that if jade cracks or breaks, it portends an accident or bad luck.
Lapis Lazuli, a Gift from the Sky
Literally called "the Alone of the sky" by the Greeks, it was considered by the Sumerians to be a gift from the heavens. The Egyptians, who prized it highly, brought it from Afghanistan, using it to adorn many of their necklaces, bracelets, and scarab amulets so that such jewelry has been found in abundance.
The color of indigo blue—"the color of the no6turnal sky shimmering with gold"—it is dated with miniscule flecks of pyrite, a metallic oxide that shines like nuggets of gold or silver.
In Europe, ground-up lapis lazuli was used as a rare and precious pigment in the past, which painters called ultra-marine blue because it came from Afghanistan—a land on the other side of the Mediterranean. It is this blue color that gave the almost unreal luminosity to the primitive paintings of Italian artists, such as Fra Angelico and Piero della Francesca.
THE BLUE OF THE SKY
Lapis lazuli owes its luminous blue color to the presence of lazurite. The Stone is considered to be of the highest quality when the blue is homogenous, without apparent and multiple yellowish or white veins caused by a large quantity of calcite.
However, be careful if the stone is too uniform and without a mark. The stones are often bathed in dye to enhance their brilliance, and stones such as chalcedony and white agate are sometimes dyed to appear as lapis.
The Magical Opal
Almost like a piece of the rainbow that has fallen onto earth, all the colors of the opal are concentrated in its core. The opal has been the subject of many superstitions, especially during the nineteenth century. The Russians believed it gave off the evil eye. In England, a novel by Walter Scott entitled Anne of Geierstein spread the idea that the opal brought bad luck. In France, some people still mistrust this Stone today. In Asia, to the contrary, it is the symbol of hope and is believed to be placed under the protection of the gods.
Its bad reputation must certainly derive from its extreme fragility, dreaded by those who had to work with it. It is a soft and porous stone, composed of mineralized silica gel and a small quantity of water (6 to 10 percent).
The majority of opals come from Australia, but they can also be found in Brazil (of a lower quality) and in Mexico.
FROM WHITE TO BLACK
The milky while opalescent opal is quite common, but there are other colors: the fire opal from Mexico is an incandescent red, the black opal is tinted dark blue with red Streaks, and there are also pale pink opals, as well as amber yellow.
In the nineteenth century, glassmakers invented a milky while glass called opaline, which they used to make jewelry. However, it looks obviously like glass.
There is also a variety of iridescent agate that evokes the shimmering of butterfly wings.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
A porous and fragile Stone, the opal may Split, break, or change color. When you wear an opal ring, be careful not to hit it againgl hard surfaces. Be sure to take it off before washing your hands as the soap may penetrate the interior of the stone and change its iridescence.
Your opal may be thirsty!
This stone has a strange characteristic: it holds water. When the opal becomes dehydrated in an inert, dry, and hot atmosphere, it loses its reflection and also seems to lose strength.
Sometimes jewelers hide a small glass of water in the corner of their store windows. This is to maintain humidity in the air. At home you can soak your opals in water to hydrate them.
Wash opals with clear water and wipe with a soft cloth; a piece of silk is ideal.
It is not recommended that you Store an opal necklace or bracelet in a cloth in a closed box: the cotton absorbs the natural humidity and can bring about a slow end to the Stones.
Heat is harmful, as is extreme cold.
Last piece of advice: do not Spray perfume or apply moisturizer before wearing an opal piece. The oil from the lotion will clog the pores of the opal, which breathes like skin. If it loses its luster, you can take it to a jeweler to have it repolished.
The Tourmaline, In Every Color
The tourmaline is currently in high demand around the world. It is one of the stones that jewelers prefer for its rich array of color, transparency, and Sparkle.
The art of the lapidary
Beautiful stones, destined for a jeweler, that are cut by hand will emit an incomparable luster. On the other hand, machine-cut stones progressively lose their luster and must be polished again.
Certain tourmalines are polychromatic. There is even a variety that is pink and green, evoking a slice of watermelon. Tourmaline has an expansive color range: from colorless to black, passing through raspberry red (rubellite), green, blue (indicolite), gray, and brown.
There are also glistening amber-colored Stones called cat's-eye.
Tourmaline is usually faceted. When has a large number of inclusions that make it opaque, a round, oval (for neck-laces), or cabochon cut is preferable.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
It is advisable to wipe these jewels regularly with a cloth moistened with oil.
Beware of imitations
Through a loupe, authentic turquoise presents microscopic white and fluffy inclusions. They can also be seen on the back side of a cabochon and on the edges of a hole made for threading. On older stones that are set in a ring, the color on the bottom is darker than the exposed color, which will have faded a bit and appear yellowish.
During the Middle Ages, turquoise from Persia was routed through Turkey before arriving in the Weft. This is what gave turquoise its name: "Stones of the Turks." There was also an intense blue color used as a pigment in paintings called turquin blue, which was prepared by grinding this Stone.
Along with coral and lapis lazuli, turquoise was one of the favorite Stones of the Egyptians. It was included in most of their gem-decorated jewels. The Aztecs and Toltecs of Mexico also encrusted their jewels and their funerary masks with turquoise. There is a mask entirely inlaid in turquoise with shells and obsidian for the eyes, which has entranced generations of passionate Native American art fans. It is said that the mat beautiful Stones come from Iran: these are Persian turquoise. They are an incomparable blue without defeat—the color of the summer sky—but the continuous political turmoil in this country has made them extremely rare. Turquoise is also found in Egypt, Mexico, Australia, and California.
Turquoise was always believed to have propitious qualities. It is said to embody wisdom, along with courage, hope, and the Spirit of youth. In France, in the past, it was a Slone given to young girls. Like a cool Stone removed from the rainbow in the sky, turquoise was often associated with the fire of garnets and the warm red of coral.
Avoid any contact between turquoise and oily substances such as suntan oil (be careful when wearing turquoise on a tropical vacation) and body lotions. The oil will change the original color of the stone and can make it fade; the same can happen with pearls or opals. Any contact can turn the stone greenish.
A SERIES OF BLUES
There is an interesting range of turquoise blues: the greenish blue veined with black of Tibetan turquoise, the cerulean blue of Iranian turquoise, and the intense blue of American turquoise.
Matrix turquoise is a special run through with streaks of dark veins. Although spurned by gemologists, it has found favor with collectors, who see beautiful landscapes within the mysterious patterns.
IT LOOKS LIKE TURQUOISE!
Like coral, this stone has been imitated since antiquity: the Egyptians used glass and enameled faience, bone or colored ivory, and ceramics and solidified pagte that were dyed blue.
The most difficult imitations to detect are ones composed of pieces of real turquoise glued together with resin. The fad that the color is too intense, too harsh, and too uniform may help amateurs detect imitations.
If resin or some other artificial material has been used, a heated needle inserted into a fake stone will create a burning odor and a blackish hole.
Certain turquoise stones from California are injected with synthetic resin to harden them.
Today, to prevent their color from changing, turquoise is encased in a protective coating that does not hurt the quality of the stone.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Extremely porous and fairly soft, this stone is somewhat fragile and may not endure careless handling. It does not do well in a dry atmosphere, which causes it to lose its natural humidity.
Soapy water, dust, any other liquids containing alcohol, and perfumes (alcohol and oil) are harmful.