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The Wonderful World of Gemstones

The Wonderful World of Gemstones

Some of mankind’s most prized resources, gemstones give us more than just a sparkle on a favourite pendant, ring or pair of earrings.  Simultaneously evoking the most indulgent luxuries of human life and the essential rocky framework of Planet Earth, gemstones have a rich history and have been endowed with a wealth of symbolic meanings in a multitude of different cultures. Valued both for their healing capacity and their physical beauty, the finest specimens are traded for extremely high prices.

WHAT ARE ETHICAL GEMSTONES?  

As with any precious commodity, there is always the potential to side step ethics in favour of a quick profit. The majority of the world’s gemstones are mined in the poorest countries, where labour laws and environmental protections are often found wanting. This means that the industry is infamous for low wages, child labour, dangerous working conditions, environmental damage, violence and even displacing entire populations in order to undertake mining activity.  

Gem dealers and jewellers with a conscience will ensure that their stones are mined in a way that causes minimal damage to the environment. They will also be able to reassure customers that everyone involved in the process of mining and processing their gems is not exploited or expected to work in dangerous conditions. They should also be actively avoiding involvement with gemstone industries where the profits are used to fund violence.

The problem is that being an ethical consumer of gemstones is not easy. Many of them have changed hands so many times it is impossible to trace exactly where they originally came from and whether any human rights violations or environmental damage occurred in mining and processing them.

HOW DOES WILD & FINE SOURCE ETHICAL GEMSTONES?

When Jess is purchasing gemstones for Wild & Fine she looks out for gem dealers who are themselves committed to ethically sourcing their precious stones. When buying diamonds, this means making sure that suppliers adhere to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (a worldwide initiative to remove conflict diamonds from the supply chain) to ensure that the brand is not funding violence elsewhere in the world. 

However, a good gem dealer should also be able to honestly reassure you that their products are processed in factories and workshops where workers are fairly treated. Furthermore, they should be able to give you an idea of how the mining processes used by their suppliers affect the landscapes in which they are working. They should also be committed to keeping up to date with developments in the mining and processing of gems worldwide, so that they can amend their purchasing habits if new issues come to light. Being an ethical gem dealer isn’t about earning a badge of decency and then forgetting about it, it’s about committing to repeatedly questioning your supply chain to ensure that it lives up to its original promises.

A FEW OF OUR FAVOURITE GEMSTONES…

It’s worth doing the hard work of locating ethical gem dealers to get gems that sparkle with a clear conscience. Jess’ passion for the sea and the wealth of life it contains means that the bedrock of the Wild & Fine collection features rich blues and greens that evoke the ocean. From the dazzling blue tourmaline eyes of our signature Cordelia Seahorse Pendant to the mossy green of the peridot at the heart of our Sea Urchin Pendant, the cool end of the colour spectrum is a bit of a favourite with us (that said, we are amazed by the beauty of autumn every year and cannot resist gathering beautiful agates, quartz and carnelians to the bench to add some warmth to the mix now and again).

One of the most fascinating things about gemstones are the meanings and properties for which humans have prized them for centuries. We always enjoy discovering the properties of a gem when we list a new one on our website, so here are the details we have unearthed so far:

GEMSTONE SYMBOLISM, MEANINGS AND PROPERTIES

BLUE TOURMALINE

Info – Also known as Indicolite, which refers to its deep blue colour, this is one of the more rare types of tourmaline. It is closely linked to deep water and is believed to promote clear and honest communication. A piece of blue tourmaline under your pillow is thought to aid sleep and promote insightful dreaming.

Featured in – Cordelia Seahorse Pendant

GREEN TOURMALINE

Info – Also known as Verdelite, green tourmaline is believed to attract luck and success. It is also a stone for energy and stamina, so a good choice for athletes and sportspeople too.

Featured in – Neptune Seahorse Pendant

PERIDOT

Info – Also known as Olivine, Peridot is the birthstone for August and the national stone of Egypt. It is one of only two gemstones - diamond is the other - that is formed, not in the Earth’s crust, but deeper down in the molten rock of the Upper Mantle and it is brought to the surface by the earthquakes and volcanoes. Peridot is only ever green in colour, so it is ironic that it is thought to help dispel jealousy and resentment! Perhaps because of the dramatic way in which it makes its way to the Earth’s surface, Peridot is thought to be beneficial for those wishing to break away from dependencies or destructive patterns of behaviour.

Featured in – Gold Urchin Pendant

AQUAMARINE

Info – The birthstone for March. Used as a talisman to protect those who travel by, over or near water. It is also believed to help relax people who have a fear of public speaking and to help them express themselves with clarity and conviction.

Featured in – Maya Gold Seahorse Pendant

AMETHYST

Info – The traditional birthstone for February, Amethyst is associated with St Valentine and with faithful love. The word Amethyst comes from the Greek word ametusthos, which means “not intoxicated” and throughout history Amethyst has been linked to preventing drunkenness and over-indulgence.

Obviously the Ancient Greeks and Romans had their own special take on this, routinely inlaying Amethyst in their goblets to prevent the wine within from having the power to intoxicate (rather than using it to help them stop drinking in the first place!)

Today amethyst is associated with contentment, wisdom and understanding. It is a talisman for focus and success that is believed to calm hot tempers.

Featured in – Nerida Silver Seahorse Pendant

AGATE

Info – Containing alternating bands of quartz and chalcedony, agate is one of the oldest gemstones used in jewellery. It comes in a wide variety of different colours and is prized for its hardness and ability to retain a highly polished surface. Famed for its grounding and stabilising properties, agate was significant in a number of ancient civilisations – from Babylonia to Ancient Egypt – for its perceived protection from negative energy.

Featured in – Some of our one-off gemstone charms

CITRINE

Info – Sometimes called The Merchant's Stone, as it is believed to attract wealth and prosperity, yellow citrine is a stone of abundance and manifestation. It invites success and encourages generosity and the sharing of good fortune.  Jewellery containing citrine is the perfect good luck talisman for someone starting out on a new business venture or setting out on a new career path.

 

Featured in – Some of our one-off gemstone charms

TURQUOISE

Info – The name turquoise comes from the French turquois, meaning “Turkish”, because it was first brought to Europe from Persia via Turkey. Believed to be a symbol of wisdom and nobility, turquoise was prized by many ancient cultures, from the Aztecs to the Ancient Egyptians, and was even used to decorate Tutankhamun’s iconic burial mask.

The traditional birthstone for December, turquoise is also a symbol of friendship that is understood to promote forgiveness, both of others and one’s self.

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

RUTILATED QUARTZ

Info – Believed to draw off negative energy, rutilated quartz is the perfect stone for anyone looking to finally put the past behind them and set a new and more positive course for the future.

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

PEARL

Info – Pearls are the only gem with organic origins and they have strong associations with the moon and the planet Venus. Believed to attract wealth and prosperity pearls are also understood to bring good luck and a sense of calm to the wearer.

Featured inVenus Clam with a Pearl Charm Necklace

TANZANITE

Info – Designated as a birthstone for December by the American Gem Association in 2002, tanzanite is a beautiful violet-blue gemstone, found only in Tanzania in central Africa. It was made popular internationally by Tiffany and Co. in the 1970s, though Masai tribes people had long known of its existence.

Tanzanian mothers are traditionally given tanzanite to wear during childbirth, because the Masai believed the stone could bring health and a long life to babies.

 

Featured in Hurley Gold Seahorse Pendant

KYANITE

Notoriously tricky to cut and therefore quite pricey, Kyanite is a favourite at Wild & Fine due to the array of ocean-like colours it comes in. The majority of kyanite gemstones are blue. In fact, the name ‘Kyanite’ comes from the Greek word ‘kuanos’ or ‘kyanos’, meaning deep blue.

Kyanite is a pleochroic gemstone, meaning that it changes colour depending on the angle from which you are looking at it.

Kyanite is believed to aid communication and help you to express yourself clearly and honestly, so it makes the perfect gift for someone who needs to get their message across in a stressful situation (such as a major job interview or public speaking event).

Whilst not an official birth stone, Kyanite is associated with the star signs Libra, Aries and Taurus.

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

PINK TOURMALINE

Also known as Elbaite, Pink Tourmaline is a balancing gemstone that can help you overcome anxiety and feel greater empathy for others.  It is a stone of self-healing that is believed to assuage emotional pain and destructive feelings.

Pink tourmaline is the gemstone of choice to either help reinvigorate a faltering friendship or relationship, or provide the courage to cut ties and start over.

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

GARNET

The birthstone for January and a traditional gift for a 2nd or 18th wedding anniversary, garnet is a wonderful foil to the cool spectrum gemstones that we use for so many of the Wild & Fine ocean-inspired pieces.  It is one of the oldest known gemstones and artefacts decorated with it have been unearthed in Ancient Egyptian tombs.

The word “garnet” comes from the Latin word granatus, which means seed or grain and is probably a reference to pomegranate seeds, as many garnets bear more than a passing resemblance to them.

Many cultures associate garnets with love and passion and also good luck and protection for travellers. However, our favourite belief about garnets hails from ancient Chinese culture, in which a garnet was the mineral expression of the soul of a tiger. 

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

MOONSTONE

To science, moonstone is member of the feldspar family of minerals that displays a pearly and opalescent schiller. To folklore it is made of moonbeams, has strong associations with femininity and fertility and can bring its wearer good fortune. Its links to the moon have led many cultures to prize it as an aid to restful sleep and as a good luck talisman for people travelling on or over the ocean.

Some people also consider moonstone to be an alternative birthstone for those born on a Monday, the “Moon’s Day”.

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

OPAL

Opals somehow manage to simultaneously capture the rainbow iridescence of a bubble and the dynamic flicker of a flame in geological form, making them some of the dreamiest gemstones around.

The name Opal is from the Sanskrit word 'upala', which means jewel and gem-quality opals are rarer than diamonds.

Both absorbent and reflective, opals are karmic stones, reminding us that the thoughts and energy we put out into the world inform what we receive in return.

Opal has traditionally been worn to stimulate creativity and encourage authenticity of expression.

Featured in - Some of our one-off gemstone charms

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