Weird & Wonderful Gemstone Trivia

    • The red diamond is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. There are less than 40 known to exist worldwide. The going price is about $800,000 per carat.
    • Tanzanite was named by Tiffany & Co. in honor of the east African country where it was discovered in the 1960s. Its scientific name is zoisite.
    • An opal can have a water content of up to 30%.
Coober Pedy Opal Doublet
Opal from Coober Pedy, Australia – Wikimedia Commons
    • Some ancient sailors used aquamarine as an antidote for seasickness.
    • It takes 1-3 years to grow a cultured pearl.
    • It’s a common misconception that diamonds are formed from coal. Actually, diamonds grow in volcanic zones deep inside the earth. Some are the product of meteor impacts.
    • The phenomenon of “cat’s eye” (or “tiger’s eye”) is called chatoyancy.
    • Tourmaline (an alternative birthstone for October) is piezoelectric, meaning it can hold a static charge. If you rub it vigorously, it will attract small debris. The opposite ends will polarize like a magnet.
    • Tourmaline also comes it a vast array of color combinations. One variety, known as watermelon tourmaline, has a dark green “rind” surrounding a bright pink interior.
Watermelon tourmaline. Mmm!
    • Some of the finest sapphires in the US are mined in Yogo Gulch, Montana. This deposit is believed to contain another 28 million carats.
    • In 1985, an extremely rare mineral known as benitoite was named California’s state gem. Its primary source is a particular kind of rock formation in San Benito County. The flourescent blue gemstone has also been found in Japan and Arkansas.
Benitoite from the San Benito headwaters – Wikimedia Commons
  • A pink sapphire is a pink sapphire – but a red sapphire is a ruby.
  • The name zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconias, or “CZ’s” are gems man-made from zirconium dioxide as a diamond simulant; zircon is a natural gemstone. Blue zircon is a stunning alternative birthstone for December.