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Since ancient times, gemstones have captivated humanity with their mystical beauty and unique properties. In antiquity, it was believed that these precious stones possessed magical powers capable of influencing destiny and protecting their wearers. Today, although science has unraveled many of their secrets, the world of gemstones remains shrouded in a halo of charm and mystery. Let's celebrate that today with some amazing facts about gemstones.
Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, was known for her passion for all kinds of jewelry and gemstones. Legend has it that among all her favorite gems, one stood out, attracting her almost obsessive attention: onyx.
It is said that Cleopatra owned numerous pieces of jewelry adorned with beautiful onyx stones, considered at the time as a stone of power and protection.
Apparently, the queen firmly believed that this gem helped her exert her will and influence over others. Cleopatra's fondness for the mysterious onyx has contributed to cementing her image as a fascinating, sensual woman full of secrets.
At first glance, garnets and pomegranates may seem similar. Both have a reddish and semi-spherical appearance. However, despite sharing a common linguistic origin, they are quite different things.
Garnets are gemstones that come in various colors, with red being the most characteristic. On the other hand, pomegranates are fruits with edible seeds. Nevertheless, in different cultures, both garnets and pomegranates have been associated with fertility and luck. Even today, it is not uncommon to see both used in rituals and celebrations to attract good fortune.
On the Mohs hardness scale, which measures a mineral's ability to scratch another, talc is the softest, with a grade of 1. Therefore, it can be said that talc is the softest known gem. With a soapy feel, it can even be scratched with a fingernail. This makes it very difficult to carve and set.
Often, talc is used in its raw and polished state, rather than faceted. Its main varieties are common talc, pale green in color, and soapstone, more compact and with more shades. The extreme softness of talc has led to its use in cosmetic powders and the production of crayons.
Diamond is the hardest natural substance known, occupying grade 10 on the Mohs scale.
This extraordinary hardness is due to its compact crystal structure, making it can only be scratched by another diamond. Therefore, since ancient times, the diamond symbolizes the eternal and indestructible. In addition, its transparent beauty and ability to refract light have made it the queen of precious gemstones.
Diamonds have multiple industrial applications thanks to their hardness, such as cutting materials or drilling oil wells.
Unlike diamonds and lab-created gems, natural stones have an irreplaceable quality: each one is completely unique. Even if extracted from the same deposit, their shapes, colors, and inclusions present subtle variations.
This is accentuated when cutting them, as faceting is entirely done by hand by expert master jewelers. It is impossible to replicate exactly the number, size, and orientation of the facets. Combined with the internal peculiarities of each gem, this makes handmade jewelry pieces true works of unique art.
The title of the world's largest faceted gem is held by the "Star of Joseph," a 1,110-carat diamond discovered in 2008 in a mine in Brazil.
This impressive rough diamond was later acquired by a Swiss consortium that cut it, retaining a final weight of 407.48 carats. The formidable size and exceptional purity of the Star of Joseph make it a unique diamond in history.
After two years of meticulous work, experts managed to facet it into an impeccable 74-facet star cut, which gave it its name. Today, this priceless jewel is occasionally exhibited in museums and exhibitions around the world.
Perhaps the most famous blue diamond in history is the mythical Heart of the Ocean, which inspired the movie Titanic. But the truth is that this iconic jewel has a real origin.
It is based on the Hope Diamond, an impressive 45.52-carat blue diamond discovered in India in the 17th century. Legendary for its rare and seductive color, this gem passed through various famous owners, gaining great fame.
After a long history of thefts, auctions, and legal disputes, today the Hope Diamond majestically displays in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, reminding the world that great treasures do exist.
Pearls are the only gems originated within a living being, bivalve mollusks. When a foreign object like a grain of sand enters their interior, the mollusk coats it with nacre to protect itself, secreting thousands of microscopic layers.
Thus, a pearl is born, after many years of patient creation. The most prized ones are natural, although pearls are also cultivated by implanting nuclei in oysters. Regardless of their origin, pearls symbolize rarity, wisdom, and good taste. Setting these organic gems requires experience, as they are very delicate. But once set, pearls unfold their warm and mysterious luminosity forever.
With its 330 carats, the Star of Asia was for decades the largest sapphire star in the world. This mystical deep blue jewel was carved in Sri Lanka in the 19th century and acquired by the famous Cartier house in 1902.
Fascinated by its intense beauty, the jeweler named it the Star of Asia and set it in an elegant Art Deco brooch. Throughout the 20th century, this extraordinary gem passed through the hands of several Hollywood celebrities, increasing its fame and legendary status.
Today, the imposing Star of Asia is permanently exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum, as one of the great treasures in the history of jewelry.
With an astonishing weight of 3,106 carats, equivalent to 621 grams, the Cullinan is the largest rough diamond ever discovered.
This enormous stone was found in 1905 in a mine in South Africa, and its size was so colossal that it had to be transported in a three-foot-long wooden box. It took three months to cut it, resulting in 105 diamonds, the largest of which, Cullinan I or Great Star of Africa, with 530 carats, is among the main jewels of the British Crown.
The discovery of the Cullinan marked a milestone that may never be surpassed in the history of gemology.
Some natural varieties of gemstones present a distinctive pattern of stripes or multicolored bands, as is the case with agate, aventurine, and sardonyx.
In them, the bands are formed by mineral deposits in layers during their formation. Others, like zircon, exhibit an optical phenomenon called adularescence, where tiny inclusions of other minerals disperse light, creating a silky iridescent effect.
Multicolored stripes are highly appreciated, as they give personality to these gems. Notable examples include tree agate, with intricate branching designs, or rutilated quartz, brown quartz streaked with gold due to the presence of rutile.
The reign of color is undoubtedly held by opal, the iconic gem of Australia. Thanks to its hydrated structure, it exhibits an optical phenomenon called opalescence that breaks down light into all the shades of the rainbow.
There are transparent, colorless opals, and those of any hue, but the most coveted ones are those with multicolored fire, especially the black variety. Tones can form patches, veins, or appear in any imaginable shape.
No two opals are alike, so each one seems to enclose a unique universe of color. This vibrant chromatic range makes opal the perfect gem for those who love vitality and fantasy.
Some reddish-toned gems have been known as "bloodstones" due to ancient legends about their origin.
Among them, the ruby stands out, whose intense hue has always been metaphorically associated with blood and passion. Another is garnet, of which it is said to have adopted its red color from the blood of legendary dragons.
Even fire opal has been related to the bloodshed in battles. Beyond myth, the strong symbolism of these red gems comes from their resemblance to blood and fire.
Today, these beautiful stones evoke above all energy, love, and life, moving away from the dark legends that once surrounded them.
Some gems have been considered magical or bearers of mystical energies since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians believed that lapis lazuli provided protection, so they used it extensively in amulets and jewelry.
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that opal stimulated clairvoyance, while jasper healed diseases. Druids considered amber a talisman of wisdom. Even today, some believe in esoteric properties of certain stones.
Although modern science does not support such beliefs, the aesthetic qualities and legendary history of these gems continue to exert an irresistible magical appeal on us.
Some gems have a truly extraordinary origin: they come from outer space. Minerals formed outside Earth and arrived at our planet through meteorite impacts are known as extraterrestrial gems. The most common ones are peridot olivine, moldavite, and pyrope garnet.
They are identified by presenting nickel and a unique crystal orientation. Having a jewel forged by the cosmos is fascinating. But the most striking thing is to contemplate pure pieces of meteorites, with billions of years of stellar history condensed into native metals like iron and nickel. These extraordinary space stones connect us directly with the universe and its infinite mystery.
We hope you have enjoyed these curious facts about precious gemstones. If you appreciate their symbolism as much as we do, feel free to explore more of them on our blog and in our catalog, where you can discover wonderful ways to gift unique memories.