RUBY • SAPPHIRE • EMERALD • TANZANITE
The saying used to be,"The Big Three." Thanks to Tanzanite, it is now "The Big Four." These four colored gemstones are the most precious and sought after gemstones outside of Diamond. Here are some important facts about them. We'll discuss their Origins. We will also uncover their species and what makes each one of these gemstones Upper Extra Fine.
GEMSTONE SPECIES: CORUNDUM
Corundum, Ruby's gem species, is primarily composed of aluminum oxide and is colorless. Trace elements of Chromuim cause its Color. The Color saturation depends on how much Chromium becomes collected in the Corundum as it forms. Ruby has the same 9.0 Hardness as Sapphire. This gemstone is very durable.
Color and Clarity are the two most compelling components that drive up the value of a Ruby. Ruby hues range from orangy-Red to purplish-Red. Vivid slightly purplish-Red Rubies are of the highest Color grade. It is known in the trade as pigeon's blood.
When it comes to Clarity, Rubies have fascinating inclusions. They consist of silk (rutile needles), crystals, fingerprints, and others. Large, noticeable inclusions cause Ruby's allure to dwindle. Some corundum inclusions can also limit a Ruby's durability. Rubies with the least amount of inclusions are the most valuable.
Ruby sources are located in different regions around the world. Generally speaking, the most beautiful Rubies come from Myanmar. These are Burmese Rubies, or Burma Rubies. Marble is the host rock for the gemstone to form in, where as Basalt is the host rock for most other regions. Certain inclusions can increase color saturation and give the gemstone more value. The silk inclusions found in Rubies hosted by Marble do a great job at scattering light. They display a glistening, velvety red color. Rubies come from sources all around the world, but few grow in Marble. So as you can see, Origin plays a big role in the presentation and cost.
GEMSTONE SPECIES: CORUNDUM
Corundum, also Sapphire's gemstone species, is basically composed of aluminum oxide like Ruby. They differ by their trace elements though. Trace elements Iron and Titanium give Sapphire its Deep Blue, where as Chromium gave Ruby its Red. Higher Iron content in Sapphire creates a darker Blue. Sapphire and Ruby also have identical hardness; both are one step down from diamond.
When it comes to Color, the most highly valued sapphires are deeply saturated violetish-Blue to Blue; a Blue to get lost in. Clarity in Sapphire is very similar to Ruby because they are both in the same Gem Species, Corundum. The inclusions found in Ruby can also be found in Sapphire. Just the same, certain corundum inclusions can also weaken Sapphire. And yes, Sapphires with the least amount of inclusions are most valuable.
Sapphires, like Rubies, are also mined in different regions throughout the world. Similar to Rubies, highly incredible Sapphires come from Myanmar due to their marble host rock (Burma Sapphires), but Kashmir holds the most prized Sapphires because of their rarity (Kashmir Sapphires). Kashmir has very limited production. But what it does produce, is in a sense, a softer Burma Sapphire. In the end, you can only find so many. So in a natural way, Gemstone Origin matters. Ceylon Sapphires have prooved to be stoic. Sri Lanka has stood the test of time. Many high-prized Sapphires have come from mines located in Sri Lanka. Many beautiful pieces by designers have been made over time with Ceylon Sapphires because it is a strong source. Both Ceylon and Burma Sapphires fight for space in the next jewelry magazine. Yet, the Burma is harder to find. That would make the most exquisite Kashmir Sapphire the hardest to find and the most treasured.
GEMSTONE SPECIES: BERYL
Beryl, gemstone species to Morganite and Aquamarine, is most famous for Emerald. Emerald shows striking color saturation. Beryl (Beryllium, Aluminum, Silicon, Oxygen) and Trace Elements (Chromium, Vanadium, and Iron) create a rich, bluish-Green Color known as Emerald. Hardness for Emerald is 7.5-8.0, which puts it around the same as a Topaz and one step down from Corundum.
Emerald's Green Color is unbeatable. If you put the finest Emerald next to any other green gemstone, the intense bluish-Green Color saturation of the Emerald would win your heart over every time. Colors for Emerald range from very strongly bluish-Green to Green.
Clarity is not so pretty for Emerald. Unfortunately, Emerald is the most included gemstone. The inclusions in Emerald are plentiful. They are a form of fractures, crystals, and liquid inclusions for the most part. Under the microscope, Emerald is the finest form of nature's abstract art. In fact, almost all Emeralds have some type of eye visible inclusion. Emeralds are typically treated with an oil to clear away any surface reaching inclusions. Moderate oiI treatments would be acceptable. Minor oil treatments are cherished. An Eye-Clean (flawless), highly saturated bluish-Green Emerald with absolutely no oil treatment is more rare than a flawless, colorless natural diamond in regards to the same carat weight. After all, it is some of these inclusions that help an Emerald emit its soft glow.
A large part of the Global market consists of mines in Colombia, Zambia, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. The most coveted Emeralds come from Colombia. Their intense slightly bluish-Green color saturation out paces all other green gemstones. However, Emeralds from Zambia have become very popular in the market for their Forest Green color. In addition, bluish-Green colored Emeralds like those being found in Colombia, are also being mined in Zambia. Zambian and Colombian Emeralds are both greatly desired. Except, a Colombian Emerald is more rare.
GEMSTONE SPECIES: ZOISITE
Zoisite is a mineral constructed of silica, calcium, and aluminum. This is the gem species for Tanzanite. A heat change in Vanadium atoms gives way to Colors ranging from violetish-Purple to Blue. It has the hardness of Quartz, 6.5 to 7.0. It's toughness is fair and lends itself to thermal shock. This is a gentle giant.
The most treasured color in these fine gemstones is a pure Blue, like that of an extra fine Sapphire. Some even have an intense Purple and violetish-Blue all their own. This is due to Tanzanite's unique property. It is pleochroic. It shows different colors from different crystal directions. Simply put, that means Tanzanite exhibits Purple, Violet, and Blue. Solid Purple Tanzanite is common. Blue Tanzanite is rare. Tanzanites that are cut to show pleochroism (all three colors) face up are also rare. Tanzanite is a soft gemstone. Yet, Tazanite typically has little to no Clarity issues. They tend to only have minor inclusions or be Eye-Clean. Clarity should not be a concern.
Unfortunately, Tanzanite is only found in the country of Tanzania. Production has been slow in the mines. Tanzanite comes from Tanzania around the Merelani area. Production of Tanzanite has highs and lows. It is not a consistent source. Couple that with the fact that there is only one large mine, you can see why Tanzanite is considered a rare gemstone. When there is ample supply, prices drop. When supply is limited, prices rise. Lack of enough material to profit from is causing the mines to close. When the supply is depleted, the only gemstones left will be the ones held by owners. This certainly places Tanzanite in the rare category.