Gemstones are naturally occurring crystalline, a form of a mineral. Gemstones have the most intense, naturally occuring color of any other material on this planet. Gemstones span the entire rainbow in color and have become infamous by the use of their names, e.g. "Ruby Red" and "Emerald Green". Gemstones are known for their beauty, value, and durability, which allows for their passing from one generation to the next. Throughout time, gemstones have charmed and dazzled people from all over the world. Colored gemstones are highly prized, and are used and cherished in many ways. For instance, the many gemstones in the "Crown Jewels" represent power, strength, and wealth for the Royal family. A time-honored tradition that has been passed along is the birthstone. Birthstones are the gems which represent the month you were born. These birthstones are given as gifts to celebrate a person’s life, and are often thought to be a reflection of their personality. Like people, gemstones are all different so there is something for every taste.
Precious & Semi-Precious
There are two classifications of gemstones: Precious and Semi-Precious. Precious stones are Sapphires, Rubies, and Emeralds. These three gems are the only stones that are called precious. Semi-Precious stones are Amethyst, Aquamarine, Citrine, Garnet, Onyx, Opal, Peridot, Tanzanite, and Topaz. All gems, precious or semi-precious, are valuable. Their value depends on many elements including color, size, quality, and rarity.
Because of the rarity of excellent sized and quality stones, some gemstones are enhanced. Jewelers have developed ways to enhance the appearance of many stones. Heating them is the most common. It has been a common practice for many years to heat gemstones to bring out their brilliant color. There are other types of treatments used. Oiling and waxing is one. This helps protect the stone and eliminates visible flaws like lines and marks that will naturally occur in a stone. This is done mostly with emeralds, because of their common natural flaws. Sapphires may have their color enhanced by diffusion, which is a chemical treatment. Another way to enhance the color is with radiation treatment, another natural process that occurs while the stone is formed and is used to bring out the color that nature did not finish. These processes are all very common and are a standard practice in the jewelry industry. These practices are used on natural occurring stones and should not be confused with "Lab Created" stones.
Special Care for Colored Gemstones
The best way to clean your gemstones is to take them to any Fred Meyer Jewelers or Littman Jewelers on a regular basis for a free cleaning and inspection. We recommend every six months. This will insure that your gemstones are cleaned properly and checked for any damage or problems. In between inspections, cleaning your gemstones is as easy as 1,2,3! All you need is a cup or bowl of warm, soapy water (mild soap, e.g. liquid dishwashing soap) and a soft brush. Let your gems soak for about 20 – 30 minutes. Gently brush them with the soft brush to take off excessive dirt, then rinse off and you're done. This is the easiest way to clean your jewelry and will not harm your stones. Because some gemstones are treated, cleaning them in harsh chemicals or brushing them too hard or too much may cause damage. In emeralds, natural cracks and flaws can worsen with improper care. Along with emeralds, pearls and opals require special care. These items should be cleaned and inspected by a professional.
*Always clean away from sink and when rinsing plug your drain - jewelry can be slippery when wet!