#7.5 to #8 on Mohs scale, good toughness. Sources are Brazil (major source), Australia, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria (known for intense color under 5 carats), Pakistan, United States, and Zambia.
Aquamarine’s cool blue hues are reflected in its name, which comes from the Latin for “sea water” Medieval sages prescribed water touched by aquamarine for a host of ills, including those affecting the eyes and lungs. They promised the virtues of insight and foresight to the gem’s wearers.
Aquamarine crystals can grow to huge sizes, and are usually blessed with excellent clarity. Gem body colors range from greenish blue to blue-green in light tones. Usually, the color is more intense in large stones, but some aquamarine from Africa displays deeper blues in faceted stones of less than 5 carats. Brazil supplies the most aquamarine to the modern market.
#7 hardness on Mohs scale, good toughness. Sources are Brazil(major source), India, Namibia, Sri Lanka, United States, Uruguay, Zambia. A closely related quartz variety called ametrine contains a striking mixture of two contrasting quartzes—purple amethyst and yellow citrine. Ametrine deposits are found in Brazil, and Bolivia.
Amethyst has been the most prized member of the quartz family for centuries. Early Greek legends, and its wine purple color, associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine. Other legend led to beliefs that amethyst gems kept their wearers clear-headed and quick-witted in battle, and in their business affairs. It’s no wonder that fine amethyst adorns the fingers of bishops and the coronation regalia of British royalty.
Russia was once the main source of amethyst, but near the turn of the twentieth century, new deposits were discovered in South Africa. After that, it became more widely available, but no less treasured. Amethyst comes in a range of sizes. The color selection ranges from palest lilac to rich purple.
Experts consider African amethyst’s royal purple with reddish overtone to be the gem’s finest color.
#7 to #7.5 on Mohs scale, fair to good toughness. Sources are Brazil, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United States. Almandine is probably one of the most familiar of the closely related species that make up the garnet group. It’s a fairly common red garnet, with a color range from orange-red through red to reddish-purple. Almandine was named for Alabanda, an ancient Asian town and an active gemstone trading and fashioning center. Ancient Romans often fashioned almandine garnets as thin, hollowed cabochons to bring out the intensity of their color.
Other species in the garnet group come in a variety of hues from browns and oranges, to vibrant green. As far back as 3100 BC, Egyptians along the Nile worked garnet into beads and inlays. Noah is said to have recognized garnet’s inner fire and used it as a lamp on the bow of the ark. Garnet of all species, including almandine, are considered January birthstones.