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I always knew that I wanted to work in the jewelry industry because of my love of all things sparkly and colorful. Although my birthstone is the ruby, I have been known to rock an occasional sapphire, emerald, opal, or blue topaz (among many others) every now and then as well. There are so many interesting facts that make me love gemstones, and I'll list my top 11 here for you!
1.) Cleopatra's Favorite Gemstone
The ancient Egyptians treasured and valued green gemstones. It is believed that at that point in time, people found it hard to tell the difference between the two beautiful green stones, emerald and peridot, so they occasionally mistook one for the other. Cleopatra was known to favor the peridot. Although she also loved emeralds, since they can look similar, she may have accidentally been adorned with emeralds as well as her favorite.
2.) Garnets and Pomegranates
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Some folks believe that the garnet's name was derived from a word meaning "blood" because of its deep red color. Instead, the garnet is named from the pomegranate because of the blood-red seeds that are found on the inside of the fruit. The pomegranate is believed to represent one's own life, dying, and rebirth.
3.) The Softest Gemstone
The softest and lightest gemstone on earth is amber. It is so light that it is able to float when in salt water. It is a stone that is a result of the sap and resin from prehistoric trees that have been fossilized. In order to be considered the gemstone that is amber, the fossilized sap needs to be at least 30 million years old. Most jewelry created with amber is made of Baltic amber, which is known to be the strongest type.
4.) The Hardest Gemstone
The hardest gemstone is the diamond. The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. It measures a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale for gemstones, which means it is as hard as a gemstone can be. This is why diamonds are suitable for everyday wear in an engagement ring, because not much will damage the actual stone.
5.) Largest Gemstone With Facets
The largest faceted gemstone in the world is a record-holding topaz that was found in Brazil and weighs almost 37,000 carats.
6.) The REAL Heart of the Ocean
James Cameron's Titanic was a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet among other great actors, but it wasn't entirely a fictional movie. The Heart of the Ocean is a beautiful (but fictitious) sapphire necklace that sinks to the bottom of the ocean when the boat meets its demise after hitting a glacier. But actually, there was a beautiful sapphire necklace that went down when the real Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean in April 1912.
Henry Morley, age 40 and married, was having an affair with his unmarried employee, Kate Phillips, age 20. The two had boarded the beautiful ship to sail to America to start a new life together. Morley had gifted a beautiful sapphire necklace, similar to the one in the movie, to Phillips right before the ship sank. Unfortunately, and much like in the movie, Morley wasn't able to swim and died that night, while Phillips was able to get aboard a lifeboat and survived, although the sapphire necklace did not make the trip onto the lifeboat. But on a slightly happier note, it turns out she was carrying his baby at the time and had a healthy baby girl named Ellen several months later.
7.) Pearls Take Time
Think about how many beautiful pearls are being worn by jewelry-loving people all over the world. Each one of those pearls took between a year and three years to come to fruition. When a pearl is cultivated, a small piece of shell or a bead, also known as the nucleus, is planted within the mollusk in order to grow into a beautiful pearl. These pearls are then harvested in a couple of years after they grow into the perfect size to create a wonderful piece of pearl jewelry.
8.) The Star of Asia
Star of Asia is a beautiful cabochon star sapphire that currently resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington. It is a 330-carat stone that came from the Magok mine in Burma. Its color is rich and the stone is clear, and it is one of the biggest star sapphires on earth. It came from the maharajah of Jodhpur to the museum in the early 1960s.
9.) The Largest Diamond
The largest diamond discovered within the United States is known as the Uncle Sam Diamond. It originally weighed more than 40 carats and was found in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, in the early 1920s at the Prairie Creek Pipe mine. The man who discovered the diamond was Wesley Oley Basham, but his buddies called him Uncle Sam, creating the new name for his discovery, the Uncle Sam Diamond. Basham worked for the Arkansas Diamond Corporation. The mine was later renamed Crater of Diamonds State Park. The stone was eventually cut into an emerald-cut diamond that weighs more than 12 carats.
10.) Striped by Nature
The agate is a gemstone that has natural bands of colors, creating stripes that give the stone individuality and creativity. These stripes appear because of other minerals, such as quartz or chalcedony, within the actual gemstone that give it a "banded" appearance.
Photo via Flickr (pavdw)
11.) Most Colorful Gemstone
The opal and the tourmaline both hold the record for the most colorful gemstone. The tourmaline is also known as the "Rainbow Gem" because of the fact that is the only gem that can come in every color. The opal is also a colorful stone, but some opals can be colorless. Opals can have flashes of color within their black or white background appearance.
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