Many ancient cultures believed the lusciously red ruby brings protection to its wearer.
Given the name anthrax by the ancient Greeks, this civilization likened the red jewel to glowing coal.
Both the ruby and the sapphire are members of the same mineral family, formed from a crystalline form of aluminum oxide called corundum. The ruby’s unique red shade is created by the presence of the element chromium.
Akin to the diamond, rubies too have a luminescent quality. The ruby gives off a brilliant red light when rubbed to create heat.
The best-quality rubies come from Burma, otherwise known as Myanmar, in Southeast Asia. Rubies are also found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Africa and Vietnam.
To initially judge a ruby, make sure it has no black spots and high brilliance. Also hold it up and check how much light passes through the gemstone.
Shrouded in mystery, men and women from all walks of life have lusted after the deep green emerald for centuries.
The ancient Hindu scriptures – the Vedas – state the emerald promises good luck and improves wellbeing.
Emeralds are formed from a kind of beryl mineral, a hint of chromium in the mixture results in the green shade.
The gorgeous jewel’s name is derived from the ancient Latin word "smaragdus."
The quality of an emerald can be judged by the microscopic holes, called inclusions, within the crystal. Scientists studying this formation can pinpoint the exact country of an emerald’s origin.
A majority of emeralds are found in Colombia and India.
Ancient Persian folklore presented the belief that the world rested on a dazzling sapphire, turning the sky a beautiful blue by its reflection.
The perception that the beautiful blue hue associated with the brilliant sapphire is its defining quality is an anomaly.
Sapphires are made from a crystalline form of aluminum oxide called corundum, the same mineral from which rubies are formed. A gemstone of any color created from corundum, except the red ruby, is a sapphire. This means that sapphires can be obtained in a diverse spectrum of colors, including shades of yellow, orange and pink.
One of the most valuable sapphires in the market is the Padparascha sapphire. A gorgeous pink-orange shade, the sapphire is depicted as a sunset encapsulated within a crystal.
Historically, these stunning stones are found in Sri Lanka and Russia. More recently, sapphires have been discovered in Kashmir, India.
Sapphires are of a very similar chemical makeup to rubies and therefore judged in much the same way. Check its brilliance, make sure there are no obvious black spots, and inspect how much light the gemstone allows through - the more light, the more valuable the stone.
Unlike the other gemstones, the pearl is the only one formed from a living creature.
For the native people of the Americas, the pearl symbolized the ethereal power of light: airy, pure and brilliant.
This highly prized jewel is created within an oyster when any foreign substance slips into the shell. To protect itself, the oyster begins encompassing the foreign substance with layers of nacre, called mother-of-pearl. These coatings eventually lead to the formation of a beautiful pearl.
Deep-sea divers have gambled their lives for centuries in search of the perfect pearl. Certain island natives are trained from childhood to endure deep sea-level water pressures without any equipment or breathing apparatuses.
Natural pearls are found in Indonesia, Burma, Bahrain, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and Tahiti.
Saltwater pearls, which form naturally, are much more valuable than freshwater or cultured pearls. The blinding white pearl is still the most precious, but more exclusive Tahitian black pearls and the rare golden pearl are also valued. To distinguish natural pearls from cultured ones, gemological x-ray equipment can be used to examine the pearl's center.