Gemstones are very beautiful objects that are found buried deep beneath the earth’s crust…or at least, this is the general story in the case of gems like diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, amethyst, quartz and so many more. In some other instances, gemstones can be formed from the bodies or physical, biological and chemical processes of organic organisms such as mollusks (e.g. oysters), which form pearls.
There are different gemstones in the world. They include gems like citrine, emeralds, diamonds, alexandrite and many more, all of which can be grouped into two major categories, that is; precious stones and semi-precious stones.
WHAT ARE PRECIOUS STONES?
Precious gemstones are the kind of gemstones that are usually valued and prized for their exceedingly high quality and commercial worth per unit, in comparison with other gemstones that are generally regarded to be worth a lot less per unit volume.
Basically, precious stones are the kind of gems that most people want to find at least one piece of, in their backyards (we’re talking about diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies). This kind of gems also happen to be very highly demanded in the field of jewelry-making, where they are often used in making a lot of high end, luxury pieces that are usually sold for a lot of money.
One thing that makes precious stones stand out among other gemstones is their beauty. Virtually all of them are very pretty and beautiful. They all also appear to sparkle when light falls on their facets (and this is a factor of their brilliance). This beauty is why precious gems are usually highly in demand, it is also one of the major reasons why they are highly prized and used widely in the fields of fashion and jewelry making.
Another reason why precious gemstones are so popular is their comparatively higher rarity i.e. precious stones are usually very rare (and in some instances, they are usually much rarer than many semi-precious stone; which are usually found in relatively larger quantities compared to precious stones). For example, diamonds – which are regarded as chief among all precious stones – can only be found in 35 known countries around the world).
WHAT ARE SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES?
Semi-precious gemstones are the group of gems that are not as highly prized as precious stones. This is usually because they are often found in larger quantities in considerably more around the world, and this is a factor that makes them a lot less rare compared to precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
Rarity is a very important thing, where gemstones are concerned because it usually determines a particular gemstone’s individual value per unit volume. Therefore, stones which are considered to be rare are generally worth more, while those that are more easily accessible – as a result of their vast availability in quantity – are usually a lot cheaper. Unfortunately, a lot of semi-precious stones fall into the latter category (i.e. they are usually considered to be a lot cheaper than many precious stones because they are usually more available or because they are generally not as rare). However, this does not mean that semi-precious stones are not highly valuable in their own rights.
Semi-precious stones such as jade, amethyst, lapis lazuli, pearls and so many others are usually sold for quite a lot of money around the world. They are also used in making very expensive jewelry pieces. Asides this, there is a wide demand for other semi-precious stones in industries such as construction, where they are used in making buildings and roads. Quartz is an example of a gemstone used widely for such industrial applications.
WHAT ARE BIRTHSTONES?
Each gemstone has its own cultural and societal significance (as well as religious significance, in some cases); many of which are sentiments that have arisen over the course of many centuries. For instance, rubies are seen as a symbol of passion due to their brilliant red color, and this is a major reason why they are usually seen as suitable gifts between lovers. There are many other stones that have meanings attached to them, and this process of attaching sentiments to gemstone has also led to the development of the phenomenon known as birthstones.
Birthstones are those stones which are often said to represent a particular month on the calendar or a particular zodiac sign. Each month has a particular gemstone that has been attached to it, which is said to represent it; and such assignment of gemstones is usually common knowledge, which tends to be the same all over the world, because there are documents to back them up. Although, it may come as a surprise to many people, the assignment of birthstones to each month doesn’t just occur as a result of one individual’s personal whims, it is as official as it gets, because a lot of gemological and jeweler associations usually get together to assign gemstones to each month.
WHICH IS THE OFFICIAL BIRTHSTONE FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY?
The official birthstone of the month of January is a semi-precious gemstone known as garnet, which occurs in virtually every color (although, those of the color blue are quite rare). Not only is garnet the birthstone for January, it is also the birthstones for two zodiac signs in tropical astrology (i.e. Aquarius and Capricorn). This wonderful stone also happens to be the official gemstone for the state of New York.
Garnet is a nesosilicate gemstone that has been in use by mankind since the Bronze Age, where it was used, not only as an ornament but as an abrasive. The origin of its name can be traced back to Middle English, from the word “gernet”, specifically, which means dark red. The stone is generally very hard and susceptible to magnetism in some instances.
It some cultures around the world, garnets are highly prized because it is believed that they warn people of coming danger by becoming a pale color. They are also believed to protect those that wear them form lightning and other kinds of natural forces e.g. storms.