Jewellery FAQ

Can you tell me more about the gemstones you use?

As a certified gemologist, Pamela takes great care in hand-selecting every gemstone incorporated into her jewellery designs. All coloured gemstones sourced are genuine.

ALEXANDRITE (June) is a chameleon-like gemstone that displays a green colour in day or fluorescent light and changes to purplish red in incandescent light. Alexandrite deposits were first discovered in Russia in 1830 and the stone was named after Czar Alexander II. Mohs' hardness 8.5. Top

AMAZONITE is a member of the feldspar group which also includes moonstone and labradorite. It is named after the Amazon because of its green colour.  Mohs' hardness: 6-6.5. Top

AMBER is the fossilized, hardened resin of the pine treee, Pinus succinifera, formed mainly about 50 million years ago and found mostly in the Baltic. Younger amber specimens have also been found in the Dominican Republic.  Mohs' hardness: 2-2.5. Top

AMETHYST (February) is the most highly valued stone in the quartz species which also includes citrine, tiger's eye, carnelian, and agate. Its purple color is determined by its iron content and caused it to be associated with Bacchus, the god of wine in ancient Greek legends.  Historically worn as an amulet against drunkeness, the name ‘amethyst’ means ‘not drunken’ in Greek. In keeping with early beliefs that amethyst keeps its wearers clear-headed and quick-witted in battle and in business, fine amethyst adorns the fingers of bishops and coronation regalia of British royalty.  Mohs' harness: 7. Top

AQUAMARINE (March) is a member of the beryl species which also includes emerald. The name ‘aquamarine’ means ‘water of the sea’ in Latin reflecting the stone’s cool blue-green color. Medieval sages prescribed water touched by aquamarine to cure ills affecting the eyes and lungs. They also promised the virtues of insight and foresight to its wearers. Brazil supplies most of today's aquamarine. Mohs' hardness: 7.5-8. Top

BLUE LACE is one of the most popular types agates because of its beautiful light blue colour. Blue lace is mostly found in Africa although a small deposit was recently found in southern British Columbia. Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7. Top

BRONZITE is a variation of the enstatite stone, whose name is derived from the Greek word for 'resistor' because it does not melt easily.  A high iron content lends bronzite its metallic luster. Mohs' hardness: 5.2. Top

CARNELIAN is a member of the chalcedony (cryptocrystalline) quartz species. Carnelian is likely named after the kornel cherry because of its orange-red color. Ancient civilazations believed that carnelian transformed poor or timid speakers into eloquent ones. Mohs' hardness 6.5-7. Top

CHALCEDONY is the term used to refer to all varieties of the cryptocrystalline (micro crystals) quartz species and specifically to the blue-green variety. The stone was named after the Turkish seaport of Chalcedon (now Kadikoy).  In the 3rd and 4th centuries, Greek sailors wore chalcedony amulets as protection against drowning.  Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7. Top

CITRINE (November) is a member of the quartz species which also includes amethyst, rose quartz, tiger's eye.  Its name is derived from the Latin word 'citrus,' a fruit closely related to lemon.  Citrine deposits are found in Brazil, Madagascar, and the United States. Mohs' hardness: 7. Top

CORAL is composed of the remains of branch-like support structures that were built by colonies of tiny marine animals called coral polyps, which are close relatives of the coral reef builders. Coral is found at depths of 3-300m in the ocean. First century Romans used it to ward off evil and to impart wisdom.  Coral is still worn in modern-day Italy as protection against the 'evil eye' and as a cure for sterility. Mohs' hardness: 3-4. Top

DIAMOND (April) is the hardest mineral on earth. Its name is derived from the Greek word 'adamas' which means 'the unconquerable.' Due to its optical effects, high hardness, and rarity, the diamond is considered the king of gemstones. Diamond mines have been found in India, Africa, Brazil, Australia and Canada. Mohs' hardness: 10. Top

EMERALD (May) is the most precious stone in the beryl group which also includes aquamarine and morganite. Its lush green colour is obtained from chromium.  Its name is derived from the Greek word 'smaragdos' which means 'green stone.' Emerald was first mined in Egypt in 300 BC. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for the stone and used it in her royal adornments. Mohs' hardness: 7.5-8. Top

GARNET (January) is a term used to describe a group of coloured minerals with similar crystal structure and related chemical composition.  The most popular members are pyrope (red with brown tint), and almandite (red with violet tint). The name is derived from the Latin word for 'grain' because of the red crystals' similarity to the red kernels of the pomegranate. Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7.5. Top

HEMATITE obtains its name from the Greek word 'haima' which means 'blood.'  When cut into very thin plates, hematite is red and transparent; when polished, it is metallic and shiny. Hematite is composed of iron oxide, making it chemically equal to common rust.   People in ancient cultures believed hematite would ensure victory in lawsuits and favourable judgements from kings.  Romans believed hematite protected a warrior who rubbed it on his body.  Mohs' hardness: 5.5-6.5. Top

IOLITE is most frequently found in its blue form. However, its name means 'violet' in Greek and is derived from a less-common colour variation. Iolite is strongly pleochroic which means that it shows different colours including gray, violet, and yellow when viewed from different angles.  Mohs' hardness: 7-7.5. Top

JADE is used to describe 2 different minerals: jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is very tough and resistant because it is composed of tiny interlocking grains. Jadeite is found in several colours including green, yellow, orange and lavender. The name 'jade' comes from the Spanish expression 'piedra de ijada' meaning 'hip stone' and was named by Spanish explorers upon seeing Maya and Aztec natives holding pieces of jade to cure aches and pains.  Nephrite is a dense and fibrous aggregate of a variety of minerals and is even tougher than jadeite.  Nephrite means 'kidney' in Greek and it was historically believed to protect against and cure kidney disease. Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7. Top

JASPER is a member of the quartz species. Its name means 'spotted stone' in Greek and uniformly coloured jasper is rare.  The finely grained, dense jasper contains up to 20% foreign materials including fossils, which determine its colour and appearance.  Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7. Top

KYANITE means 'blue' in Greek. Deposits are found in Burma, Brazil, Kenya, Austria, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and the United States. Mohs' hardness: 4-4.5 along its axis and 6-7 across it. Top

LABRADORITE is a member of the feldspar group (Amazonite, Moonstone). It is named after the peninsula of Labrador in Canada, where it was  first found. Labradorite is known for its 'Labradorescence' or 'schiller' effect, an irridescence in metallic blue and green hues. Labradorite deposits are found in Canada, Australia, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia and the US. Mohs' hardness: 6-6.5. Top

LAPIS LAZULI is composed of several minerals including lazurite (25-40%), enstatite, pyrite, and calcite. For this reason, lapis lazuli is considered a rock instead of a mineral. Its name means 'blue stone' in Latin derived from the stone's blue colour which it obtains from sulfur.  The deposits of finest quality have been found in Afghanistan. During the Middle Ages, it was also used as a pigment to produce ultramarine. Mohs' hardness: 5-6. Top

MALACHITE obtains its green colour from copper. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used malachite in jewellery, as amulets and as a powder for eye shadow. During the Middle Ages, people in Europe hung malachite on cradles to assure peaceful sleep for their children and protect them from witchcraft.  Mohs' hardness: 3.5-4. Top

MOONSTONE is a member of the feldspar group (amazonite, labradorite). It is colorless and translucent with a white shimmer reminiscent of moonshine (hence its name). According to Hindu mythology, moonstone is made of solidified moonbeans.   Mohs' hardness: 6-6.6. Top

MOTHER OF PEARL is the inner irridescent layer of a mollusk or snail shell which may or may not be used to culture pearls.  Mother-of-pearl is most frequently found in white, reflecting the colour of most pearls. However, mother-of-pearl of black Tahitian pearls is naturally dark. Another well-known  mother-of-pearl specimen is the Paua abalone from New Zealand, which has a blue-green irridescent play of colours. Top

ONYX is used to identify 2 different types of stones: black onyx and onyx marble. Black onyx is a type of uniformly colored black agate with a Mohs' hardness of 6.5-7. Marble onyx is a limestone formed by the minerals calcite and aragonite. Marble onyx is always found in layered form and has a Mohs' hardness of 3.5-4. Top

OPAL (October) has the special characteristic of a 'play-of-colour,' a display of rainbow-like hues which change with the observation angle. As a result of this optical phenomenom, Arabic legends say it falls from the heavens in flashes of lightning.  The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease. Mohs' hardness: 5-6.5. Top

PEARLS (June) are formed inside saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels as a result of an irritant inserted between the shell of the mollusk and the mantle, the pearl's tissue. The pearly luster is produced by a film of conchiolin near its surface. This formation also causes the interference of light and the resulting irridescent colours (called orient) that can be observed on the pearl's surface. Freshwater pearls are cultured from large mussels (20x11cm) which can hold up to 20 pearls. While the pearl's Mohs' hardness is 2.5-4.5, pearls are extraordinarily compact, and it is very difficult to crush them. Top

PERIDOT (August) was mostly formed deep inside the Earth and was brought to the surface by volcanoes. It is similar in composition to 'Olivine' which came to the Earth in meteorites.  The word 'peridot' was derived from the Arabic 'faridat' which means 'gem.' Peridot was brought to Central Europe by the crusaders in the Middle Ages, and was often used for ecclesiastical purposes. Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7. Top

QUARTZ is the name used for a group of minerals of the same chemical composition and similar physical properties.  Quartz is found in a variety of colours (cherry, green, rose, smokey). The term 'quartz' means 'hard' in Slavic. Mohs' hardness: 7. Top

ROCK CRYSTAL is a member of the quartz species and is colourless and transparent.  The name crystal comes from the Greek term for 'ice,' as it was believed that rock crystal was eternally frozen. Mohs' hardness: 7. Top

RUBY (July) belongs to the corundum (sapphire) species which comprises the hardest minerals after diamond.  Its name was derived from the Latin word 'ruber' which means 'red colour.'  People in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. Warriors in Burma (now Myanmar) wore rubies to make themselves invincible in battle.  Medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom and love. Mohs' hardness: 9. Top

SAPPHIRE (September) belongs to the corundum species (as is ruby), which comprises the hardest minerals after diamond.  The name sapphire means 'blue' in Greek and was applied to various blue stones until the Middle Ages.  Today, corundums of any colour except red are called sapphire. In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens believed blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore saphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings.  Mohs' hardness: 9. Top

SPINEL classifies a group of related minerals which occur in many colours: violet, blue, orange, red, pink and purple. The colouring agents are iron, chromium, vanadium, and cobalt. Mohs' hardness: 8. Top

TANZANITE (December) was first discovered in 1962 in northern Tanzania. Tanzanite typically shows strong pleochroism, appearing violet-blue from some directions and purple from others. Mohs' hardness: 6-7.  Top

TIGER'S EYE is a type of quartz in which numerous fiber-like inclusions of rutile create an effect which resembles the slit eye of a cat upon reflection of light. This effect is known as 'chatoyancy.' Mohs' hardness: 6.5-7. Top

TOPAZ (Yellow November, Blue December) obtains its name from an island in the Red Sea formerly known as Topazos (now Zabagad). While the most common colour is yellow with a red tint, topaz is also available in blue, pink and violet. The coloring agents are iron and chromium. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength. During the Renaissance, Europeans thought topaz could break magic spells and dispel anger.  People in India have believed that topaz worn above the heart assures long life, beauty and intelligence.  The biggest faceted gem ever recorded is a topaz in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, named the 'American Golden' and weighing 22,982 cts. Mohs' hardness: 8. Top

TOURMALINE (October) is mostly available in a range of colours (from pink to yellow to blue) within the same crystal. Its name derived from Sinhalese word 'turamali' which means 'stone with mixed colours.' Unicolored tourmaline is quite rare. Mohs' hardness: 7-7.5. Top

TURQUOISE (December) means 'Turkish stone' because the trade route that brought it to Europe used to come via Turkey. It is one of the world's most ancient gems. Egyptian royalty wore turquoise jewellery as early as 5500 BC and Chinese artisans were carving it over 3000 years ago. Turquoise is seldom found in pure colour. The best quality deposits are found in Iran.  Mohs' hardness: 5-6. Top