Mimicking the color of the sea, aquamarine (Latin: aqua marina = sea water) is a highly prized and remarkable stone that touches on tones from across the blue spectrum. Aquamarine is part of the beryl family that includes green beryl, yellow beryl, morganite (pink beryl), and its precious sibling, emerald. The deepest natural blues, known as Santa Maria, were originally discovered in Brazil. While the Santa Maria mine has been exhausted, similar material has been found in Mozambique and is now referred to as Santa Maria Africana. Lauren K utilizes various exquisite shades of aquamarine from both Brazil and Africa including Santa Maria gemstones. Aquamarine and other colors of beryl are typically heated to even out color.
Aquamarine is naturally associated with the aquatic sign of Pisces, and is the birthstone for those born in the month of March. These watery gems are said to be the treasures of mermaids, and a symbol of hope.
Diamonds are the most famous and most successfully marketed gems in the world. Diamond is a solid form of carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal. It is prized for its brilliance. Although it is the hardest of gemstones, it is not indestructible. Diamonds can be scratched by other diamonds and can be worn down over time. Small diamonds are quite plentiful while large gems that meet the highest standards of the “Four C’s” (color, clarity, cut, carat weight) are rare and valuable. Our minimum quality requirement is G-H for Color and S1 for Clarity. We use full brilliant cut diamonds and, occasionally, we use “Salt & Pepper” diamonds that are rose cut and have magnificent visible carbon characteristics that lend an earthiness to the designs. All of our diamonds are natural, untreated and Kimberley Process certified.
Diamond is associated with the fiery first sign of the zodiac, Aries and is the birthstone for those born in April. This brilliant gem is a symbol of strength and invincibility. Historically they are found in the scepters and crowns of monarchs around the world.
Emerald is the bright green member of the beryl family. Today emeralds are primarily mined in Zambia and Colombia. We seek out the most beautiful stones available with vivid, green color and minimal inclusions. We do accept emeralds with minor inclusions; the appearance of inclusions in emeralds is referred to as “le jardin". This “emerald garden” gives individuality and identity to the gem. For centuries emeralds have been treated with oil to minimize inclusions and brighten color thus further beautifying the stone. This treatment is a recognized and accepted practice throughout the industry. At Lauren K we accept the use of natural oils for our emeralds. We use both cabochon and faceted cut emeralds. Our master setters are skilled at setting emeralds even in bezel settings, rarely attempted by most jewelers.
Emerald is the jewel of luxury loving Taurus, and is the birthstone for those born in the month of May. These brilliant gems were considered to bear a gift of wisdom and intuition.
Garnet is part of its own mineral family. This gem is natural and untreated and is found in every color from the most familiar brownish reds to rich oranges, velvety purples, bright greens, and rare blue and color-change garnet.
At Lauren K, we love the rich orange shade of spessartite referred to as Mandarin garnet. Vivid green Tsavorite is often our first choice when designing with green. In fact, Tsavorite often completes our spectrum when creating a rainbow of gems. Demantoid is another unusual green form of garnet known for its diamond-like brilliance and dispersion.
Garnets are mined in many far-flung locales from the Ural Mountains of Russia to the Tsavo area of Kenya to Namibia and the United States.
Those born in January or under the sign of Aquarius have an array of colors to choose from as their garnet birthstone. Garnets are said to balance energy and bring serenity.
Black opal is the most precious and valuable variety of opal, and one of the more valuable gemstones on earth. These gems formed over millions of years in sedimentary rock when a solution of silicone dioxide and water evaporated from cracks of sandstone. Black opal originates exclusively from the mines of Lightning Ridge, in a remote outback region of Australia. Lightning Ridge black opals are distinctive for their high luster and full display of spectral colors from blues to greens to yellows to oranges and rare reds. The finest opals display a multitude of dancing colors, diverse patterns, and brilliant depth of field. Black Opals are always untreated and are judged on spread of color, clarity, pattern and blackness of undertone. Many of our opals are considered Boulder Opal. They are from the Lightning Ridge and are characterized by their display of the natural rock in which they grew. Each one is unique and magnificent in its own way.
Opal is the birthstone for those born in the month of October, and is associated with the zodiac sign of Libra. There is much lore around opals but what resonates with us is that it is thought to be one of the luckiest gems since it contains the full spectrum of the rainbow.
Black and Boulder Opals are considered to be quite resilient but just as with any valuable jewel, care should be taken to avoid contact with abrasives or any undue impact. Black opals can be washed with mild soapy water and rinsed in cool water. As with most gemstones, they should not be put in an ultrasonic cleaner or chemical cleaner.
If you keep your opals in a safe, it is recommended that you store your gem in a sealed container or plastic bag with a small amount of water on a dampened cloth as an extremely dry environment for an extended period is not good for opals in particular.
The distinctive vibrant green color of peridot has long been prized. Ancient Egyptians believed that peridot was sent to the earth by the explosion of a star. Peridot is the only other gem besides diamond that is born not in the upper crust of the Earth but in the mantle, brought to the surface by tremendous seismic activity. Some of today’s sources for this gemstone are Burma, Brazil, Pakistan, China and the United States. Peridot can also be found in meteorites. This gem is natural and never treated.
Peridot is August’s birthstone and is associated with the zodiac sign of Leo. Ancient civilizations believed that peridot had protective powers, and gave a gift of inner radiance.
Moonstone’s mineral name is feldspar; it is natural and never treated. Our rainbow moonstone gems are responsibly sourced mostly from Madagascar. Each gem is cut and polished to reveal its unique blue flash and glow called adularescence; this is a particular moonstone term for the optical phenomena exhibited as the stone moves.
For those lucky ones to be born in the month of June, moonstone is your birthstone. This magical stone is thought to be captured moonlight, a protector of travelers and swimmers!
When a sapphire moves into the deep red spectrum, it qualifies as ruby. Ruby, like all sapphire, belongs to the corundum mineral family, very hard gems of great depth and brilliance. Ruby can range in color from a pinkish red to a bluish red, with so-called “pigeon blood” red being the most sought after.
Some of the most prized rubies have come from Burma and Kashmir, though today very fine gems are also found in Thailand, Afghanistan, Australia, Namibia and Mozambique.
Just like the rest of the corundum family, some rubies are natural but most are heated to even out their color. At Lauren K, most of our rubies are heat treated unless specified otherwise.
Ruby is the traditional birthstone for July, and is associated with the zodiac sign of cancer and with the sun. Ruby is said to improve energy and creativity and has been held in high esteem for thousands of years by many cultures.
Sapphire and ruby are part of the corundum mineral family. Sapphires are available in a full spectrum of colors from blue, green, yellow, to orange, pink and white. Red sapphires are known as ruby. Sapphires are hard durable stones, good for any type of jewel and great for everyday wear.
At Lauren K, we use a rainbow of sapphires in many of our multi-colored jewels. We use both natural and heated gems. Heat is the only form of treatment that we allow for our sapphires; it is used when necessary to even out colors. At Temple St. Clair, most of our sapphires are heat treated unless specified otherwise.
For those born in the month of September, there is a rainbow of sapphires to choose from as your birthstone. Sapphire is associated with the zodiac sign, Virgo. This gem is said to be the wisdom stone, and is believed to calm the mind and enhance creativity. Throughout history, blue sapphires have often been chosen for engagement rings. Famously Napoleon gave his Empress Josephine a blue sapphire engagement ring.
Star sapphires fall under the category of “phenomenal gemstones”. These are gems that possess striking optical effects such as stars and cat’s eyes.
Star Sapphire gets its name from the rare display of asterism, single or multiple stars that appear to float across the dome of the stone. Like traditional sapphires, star sapphires come in a multitude of colors blue, blue-gray, pink, yellow and red (Star Ruby). Star Sapphires are natural and never treated.
We love to use star sapphires from Lauren’s grandfather’s collection. To us, these “phenomenal gems” like stars and cat’s eyes are just plain magic!
While mining for rubies, another beautiful red gem occasionally emerges and that is spinel. Sometimes mistaken for ruby and often just as valuable, spinel is in its own family of gemstones. Before the arrival of modern science, spinels and red sapphires were all considered ruby.
Spinel forms in igneous rock in the uppermost Earth’s mantle. Spinel has long been found in Sri Lanka, but also in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Tanzania and other locales. Recently blue spinels were found in the Baffin Islands of Canada. Spinel comes in bright red, pink, and blues. The most vibrant reds are compared to the bright fire-y red end of a burning cigarette. Spinels are typically natural and not treated.
In yoga lore, spinel is associated with the root chakra and is said to promote longevity and endurance.
Tanzanite, named after Tanzania, is only found in that East African country. Though geologically formed over 500 million years ago, it was Tiffany & Co. that named and first marketed Tanzanite in 1968. This gem is almost always heated to bring out its rich blue-violet shade. At Lauren K, though we love the richer blue hue of tanzanite and are always on the lookout for special pieces, we can’t resist the pretty pastel hues of unheated tanzanite as well, sometimes referred to as Zoisite.
In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added Tanzanite as a December birthstone! Yogis say this gem affects the third chakra so facilitates communication and self-knowledge.
At Lauren K, we love tourmalines and utilize the full spectrum of this gem. In the blues and greens, we seek out forest greens, mint greens, and blue green indicolite. The pinks we use range from pale pink to hot pink to red rubellite pink. Each gem is unique and is selected for clarity, color saturation, and individuality. Within our selections no two gems - unless a perfectly matched pair - will ever be identical so don’t hesitate when you find just the gem that “speaks to you”. Our tourmalines are mostly natural or lightly heated.
Tourmaline is sourced in Brazil and in many parts of Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Tourmaline is associated with the heart and is said to be a calming stone and good for meditation.
Turquoise is a brilliant blue green mineral that has been prized since antiquity. Lauren K turquoise is a high-quality material sourced from the Sleeping Beauty and Kingsman mines in Arizona. Natural turquoise is a very porous and delicate gem. 99% of turquoise currently used in jewelry is treated to improve durability. The turquoise that we source at Lauren K is either enhanced through a natural method known as the Zachery Process or is coated with a colorless polymer. We do not allow the use of dye or other substances. This is considered “natural stabilized turquoise”. We love the richness of our turquoise set in our classic yellow gold.
Turquoise has been thought to be a lucky gemstone and is traditionally associated with the month of December. It was a central gemstone to the Persian Empire and to the Ancient Egyptians, and sacred to many indigenous peoples of the American Southwest and the pre-Columbian Aztec and Maya. The ancient Egyptians stabilized their turquoise by applying beeswax. Turquoise is said to create inner calm.
Since our turquoise is stabilized material and polished to a high sheen, its porosity is greatly decreased so it is safe to lightly wash your gems in the usual delicate soap and cool rinse.