My Precious (Stones)


Different coloured pearls chart

The terms 'precious' and 'semi-precious' are not often used nowadays to describe gemstones, even though 'precious' was used to describe the great four in the good old days: the diamond, the ruby, the emerald and the sapphire. These gems are usually the ones we grow up knowing the best, and probably the ones we see the most often in jeweller's windows, but there is such a great and wonderful world of minerals out there, whether it is gemstones or metals to set them in that you seek.

There are so many gemstones and variations of the gemstones that we commonly know that it is often difficult for a newcomer to distinguish what is what, although it is easy enough for them to tell a created gemstone in a jeweller's window from natural ones. (Created ones are more flawless, of course natural ones will (naturally, imagine that) contain flaws.)

Elsewhere outside the realm of these four great it is much more difficult to tell, unless it is explicitly said. For example, is that luminous, clear green stone an emerald, or could it be a green tourmaline or a green tsavorite garnet?

For me, I'm no expert on jewels, but there are a few that I really like and would like to know more about. I don't like to choose favourites, but can see a trend of liking my gemstones to either be opaque or not at all, not really straddling that smokey or cloudy divide between the two. That said, however, iridescence overrides even this when it comes to it.

Pearl peas in a pod

More than the sum of its parts

Generally I don't like to make lists of favourites, because as a whole I do not enjoy choosing favourites. I like a great deal of sparklies because there are many colours that I am fond of, and the effect of each gemstone is so unique. Their setting can also influence your perceptions of it intensely, for example, a simple unset jewel would not have the same impact as the same jewel set in a delicately crafted twist of metal, perhaps with a cluster of others.

One such example is that I did not think much of the moonstone at first, but even the humble moonstone appears ethereal when set in an elven circlets. I suppose another example in popular culture would the Belt of Deltora, which emphasises my point well: It's more than the sum of it's parts.

Yes, I know I use that phrase often of late.

I am extremely fond of the colour red (as you can tell from this website currently), so the many types of red gemstones (from rubies to the many variations of the garnet) I enjoy greatly. However not everything can make what I thought would be a fairly straightforward list.

I'm rather fond of lists today, take a look if you wish.

The List

  • Pearls
    • Pearls seem to come in many strange colours now, it makes me wonder how on earth this was achieved. In the end though, you can't beat the basics — the off-white and blue-black colours are my personal favourites. That said, I wouldn't say no to green freshwater pearls in its adorable 'peas in a pod' setting. Ruben also picked out this peanut necklace made of yellow-brown pearls.
  • Cats eye (chatoyant chrysoberyl)
    • The luminous quality of cats eye is quite intriguing to me. My personal favourite is the purple cats eye though, perhaps because a purple-eyed cat featured in one of my life-long favourite series, The Song of the Lioness, and associated. Although Ruben recounts the cheap marbles made of cats eye from when he was a child (glass was somehow cheaper in my 'generation'?), the cats eye isn't always just relegated to just tasks. This beautiful ring is an example of it well used. I wonder if it comes in another colour?
  • Jade
    • Jade seems highly praised by Asians, they're always selling in Chinese jewellery stores and we deck ourselves out in it. It's said to have qualities which can assist in improving health or luck, but I'm not really that familiar with it nor do I necessarily believe in it (though sometimes there's no harm in subscribing anyway). There are also many types of jade coming from different places, which makes a great difference to cost. In Hong Kong you can either spend a fortune at the jewellery stores for some beautiful, by very expensive stuff, or pay a very minimal price for a woven bracelet with jade beads. Still lovely and green and jadey, but cheaper. Sometimes classier too.
  • Amber
    • I took this for a namesake a long time ago, because I loved the golden-orange colour. This probably was also an influence of my long time favourite series, where the main character has hair the colour of copper or fire. She also wore a 'emberstone' as a necklace as a gift from one of the higher powers and I admired this intensely and have been on the lookout for a likeness. Sadly, I don't always enjoy seeing the insects embedded inside amber pieces — maybe if I could find a piece that was clean!
  • Sunstone
    • Sunstone is just so sparkly, and the cheap varieties I know look like sand has truly been trapped inside a smooth shell, glittering away. Darker than sand on a beach (darker than the colour of amber above), yet reminiscent of sand all the same. I didn't expect to see this variation of sunstone though, which I would have trouble distinguishing from a similarly coloured stone of another name!
  • Amethyst
    • For the same reasons as above that I like purple cats eye. It seems this series has had an intense effect on my life. I don't know the exact reasons I like amethyst, but it seems to combine the best qualities of those 'great gems', without being the basic four colours. I like amethyst most when set in gold, interestingly.
  • Opal
    • Australia is pretty famous for its opals and many Australian souvenir stores sell opal necklaces for a fairly cheap price. I admit to going over and having a look most of the time, although they are very typically set in iconic Australian shapes which don't quite seem to do it justice (as photographs don't do the stones justice either). The glittering fires to me make it suitable for everyone since there are so many colours in its depths, but it doesn't have that glittering quality people like from clear stones. There are white opals, black opals, fire opals, and so on. While I'm not familiar with all of them, I have a particular preference for white opals which I can't explain.

There are so many varieties of garnets and other stones, a detailed list would simply take too long, but the above are some of the stones that are definitely my favourites. If I ever decide to delve deeper into the jewellery making business (since those Elvish circlets are intriguing enough for me to want to try my hand at it), I would definitely try to source some of these beautiful jewels. Even without making items of jewellery myself, these gems can always be taken to be set in an item of jewellery by a local jeweller in a design of your own choosing.

Well, that's something I'll put aside to think about someday! In the meantime, I'll be browsing this gem supplier to see what new gem I can learn about. ;)

Pearl chart from Reverie Bridal
Pearl necklace image by Muyinmolly on Etsy.