PART 1: A guide to semiprecious stones

by Belal El Ghassein January 13, 2017

PART 1: A guide to semiprecious stones

This is the first part of a three-part blog series that explains semi-precious stones. In this first part, we will discuss 10 semi-precious stones. 

Without further ado, here are the first ten stones:

1.Agate

Agate bas necklace

Agate is a type of stone from the chalcedony quartz family. Most commonly used agate gemstones have banded layers or patterns that differ in color. The layer and pattern combinations can be endless. Sometimes the term agate is also used for non-banded stones. Agate stones can be found all over the world and there are more than a thousand varieties.

Etymology:

It has been discovered by a greek philosopher named Theophrastus in ancient Sicily by the river Achates (today called Dirillo). Usually, agate can be found in volcanic rocks and ancient lava but can be found in metamorphic rocks, as well.

Representation: It represents wisdom, confidence and prosperity. In a metaphysical sense, it is believed that agate stones balance and stabilize the negative and positive forces. Agate is a low-intensity stone and vibrates at a low frequency. However, it is thought to have a strengthening influence and helps stabilizing physical, emotional and intellectual energies.

Uses:

As mentioned above, this stone has been used in ancient times. Most of the time, agate was used for hardstone carvings and its use was spread all over the ancient world. Remainings of agate stones were discovered on ancient sites in Egypt, Africa, the Middle East and even Russia. It was also used as healing amulets. Today, agate stones are mostly used in art and decor. It is a hard quality stone that ensures a long-term resistance. It is most used for jewelry such as bracelets, pins, necklaces and pendants.

2.Amethyst

amethyst beads bracelet

Amethyst is a purple form of macrocrystalline quartz. Actually, it’s one of the most common minerals. However, in ancient times it was highly regarded and compared to high-end stones such as diamonds.

Etymology:

The name amethyst comes from ‘ametusthos’ which in greek means ‘not intoxicated’. Ancient greeks used this stone to decorate drinking vessels. It was thought to help with sobriety and keep people from intoxicating. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February. This month was dedicated to the Roman god, Neptune, the god of water.

Representation:

It represents health, beauty and clarity. Amethyst is considered a healing crystal which is effective for people, plants and animals.The use of Amethyst stones has a well-documented history. Amethyst therapies are associated with physical ailments of the nervous system.

Uses:

Apart from the ancient uses for healing purposes, today, amethyst is popular in jewelry making. It is a go to gemstone for pendants, beaded bracelets and other ornaments. It is also used for carvings.

3.Aquamarine

aquamarine gemstone bracelet

Aquamarine is a variety of beryl.  Beryl is a form of mineral that occurs naturally, and it’s relatively rare. The two most known forms of beryl are the emerald (green) and the aquamarine (blue-green). Pure beryl is colorless but varieties such as yellow, pink, and red can be found all over the world. The country with the largest deposit of this gemstone is Brazil. But countries like India, Pakistan, Madagascar and Myanmar also produce this stone.

Etymology:

The name comes from Latin which means ‘seawater’. This name was given because it reflects the color of the ocean. It is considered a stone that represents youth and happiness.

Fun fact: Sailors carried these stones for good luck as there were considered a treasure of mermaids.   

Representation:

Courage, balance and peace. It is said to bring clarity and help to relax for those who are in disorder.  It represents the purity of waters. It’s thought to have a calming and cleansing effect and inspires trust.

Uses:

Aquamarine is hard and it comes with few flaws. These are the reasons why it’s so popular in jewelry making. Usually, it’s heat treated so it can be formed into beads and make jewelry out of it.

4.Aventurine

Green aventurine gemstone bracelet

(Green aventurine and white howlite gemstones)

Just as agate, aventurine is a form of chalcedony quartz. The most common color of the stone is green but it can found in different colors such as orange, brown or gray. It can be found all over the world such as India, Brazil, Tanzania and Russia.

Etymology:

The name comes from the Italian word ‘a ventura’ which means by chance. It was discovered in the 18th century in Italy. As the name suggests it was discovered by chance.

Representation:

It represents serenity, wisdom and power. It is also associated with earth and represents prosperity of nature.

Uses:

Most commonly it is used for jewelry making. It can be found in form of beads and can be used for decor and carving.

5.Bali turquoise

turquoise beaded bracelet(The middle bracelet is turquoise)

Turquoise is one of the oldest stones in history. It is said that turquoise beads from 5000 B.C. have been found in Iraq. Today, Iraq does not export the gemstone and the main sources of the stones are Mexico and the USA.

Etymology:

The name turquoise comes means ‘turkish stone’. It was given this name because the stone was brought to Europe through Turkey. In ancient history is known as the symbol of wealth. Egyptians quarried the stone in Sinai.

Fact: The mask of Tutankhamun was decorated with turquoise stones.

Representation:

It represents heaven & earth, kindness and offers protection. In ancient history is known as the symbol of wealth. It is also considered a protector and keeping harm away from the owner of the stone.  

Uses:

Today is also used for jewelry. It can be found many forms such as beads, cabochon or pendants. There are many varieties of turquoise stones, depending on where it comes from: Chinese, Tibetan or Bali, just to name a few.

6.Hematite

hematite beads bracelet

 

Hematite is an iron, more specifically it’s the mineral form of iron. Usually, hematite is black or silver-gray but it can appear in brownish- red form, also. Gray hematite can be found in places that have standing water. They appear in huge formations of iron.

Etymology:

The name of this mineral comes from the greek word for blood. The main reason for this name is that it can appear in a dark red color that resembles blood. Even the black and gray mineral are red inside, hence the name. This material was used for writing on walls. Remains of red chalk mines were found in Poland and Hungary.

Representation:

It represents optimism, courage and stability. It’s a very popular feng shui stone. The black color represents protection. One of the most common feng shui figurines made out of hematite is the turtle which represents strong grounding (stability) quality.

Uses:

During the Victorian era, hematite jewelry was extremely popular in Europe. Nowadays, it is still used for making jewelry. We can find pendants, beaded bracelets, ankle bracelets and necklaces. Also, we can see this material in feng shui carvings.

7.Howlite

howlite beads bracelet

 

Howlite is white or sometimes also called, porcelain white. It has black/gray veins, similar to turquoise. It’s a fairly rare stone that can be found only in a few places worldwide (Calfornia, USA and Nova Scotia, Canada).

Etymology:

It was discovered in Nova Scotia by Henry How, hence the name. It comes in irregular shapes and forms, reaching about 1 cm in height.

Representation:

It represents relaxation, patience and memory. It is said to have a calming effect and can be used to relieve anxiety. Howlite is the birthstone for the Gemini astrological sign.

Uses:

It’s used in jewelry making and carvings. It absorbs really well dying so most of the time it’s dyed to give a turquoise look.

8.Iron Pyrite

iron pyrite gemstone

 

Iron pyrite is also called ‘fool’s gold’ as its yellowish luster resembles gold. Pyrite is a common mineral that can be found in coal mines. Despite being called a fool’s gold, actually, it can be found around small quantities of gold residue.  

Etymology:

The name comes from from the greek word that means ‘in fire’ or ‘of fire’. In ancient Rome, this name was used to all stones that would spark when hit against some sort of steel. During the ages, it became the collective name for sulfide minerals.

Representation:

It represents wealth, luck and energy. It’s usually worn as an amulet to divert harm and bring luck and positive energies. It is thought to help with fatigue and increases vitality.  

Uses:

Pyrite is has been and it’s still used to produce sulfur dioxide. More recently, Energizer made use of this material in the production of their non-rechargeable lithium batteries.  It was used to make marcasite jewelry which was in fashion during the Victorian era. Today, it’s still used in jewelry making. It can be found in pendant and bead forms.

9.Jasper

jasper stones

(multicolor jasper gemstones)

Jasper is composed of micro-granular quartz and others. Usually, it comes in red, yellow, brown or green and very rarely blue. The most common color being red.

Etymology:

The name jasper comes from an old French ‘jaspre’ which means ‘spotted rock’. Although, we can trace the name back to other ancient civilizations who used this rock. Jasper appears in Arabic, Greek and Persian history. It was the go-to gem in ancient times. It was mostly used by kings, shamans and priests.  

Representation: It represents balance, guidance and independence. It is said the wearing jasper would bring balance and guides the individual away from negative energy.

Uses:

As mentioned before it was used by high ranked officials in the ancient world. Also, it was used to make bow drills in 4000-5000 BC. Today, jasper is still used in jewelry making and can be used as an amulet. It is used for decor carvings, as well.  

10.Labradorite

labradorite stone

Labradorite occurs in igneous rocks. It is part of the feldspar mineral family and it’s remarkable for its colorful optic play, called labradorescence. It can be found in gray/green, dark gray or black colors.

Etymology:

This mineral was first discovered in Labrador, Canada. Since then it was reported in many other countries worldwide including Norway.

Representation:

It represents serenity, clarity and imagination. Labradorite is considered the protector of the mineral world. It brings clarity and awakens self-awareness.

Uses:

It is used as an amulet and jewelry. It can be used as pendants or beads in ankle or wrist bracelets.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog series in which will discuss further 10 gemstones.  




Belal El Ghassein
Belal El Ghassein

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