Sunday’s Gem — Topaz

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

A hard silicate mineral formed in the cavities of igneous rocks, Topaz is a gemstone that typically presents itself as colorless, yellow, or brown.

While found throughout the world, Topaz in gem-quality form usually comes from Brazil or Sri Lanka. In the U.S., Topaz is the state gemstone of Utah.

Natural topaz, compliments of the Natural History Museum of Utah

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Sunday’s Gem — Diamond

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

The earliest diamonds were found in the 4th century B.C. in India.

Composed of mostly carbon that’s been subjected to extremely high temperatures and pressure, the name ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word adamas, translated ‘unconquerable, invincible.’

The contrast of uncut diamonds with the polished, cut version in the lower right corner is striking (photo thanks to www.gia.edu (the Gemological Institute of America)

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Sunday’s Gem — Agate

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

A variety of polished Agates (courtesy of http://www.geology.com)

First found in a river in Sicily between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, Agate is a banded Chalcedony, a mineral of the Quartz family. Known as the “earth rainbow,” it’s found throughout the world, and there are perhaps thousands of types, typically appearing in stripes, “eye” markings, colored specks, fossilized inclusions, or no color at all.

Ancient Islamic and Babylonian peoples thought Agate could ward off evil. Long ago Egyptians and Persians prized it as protection against natural disasters. Ancient Chinese expected it to cleanse their minds, making room for good fortune. Medieval peoples tied it to the horns of oxen to bring about a plentiful harvest. It’s believed to be the middle stone in the third row in the breastplate of the High Priest in early Israel.

Agate is a translucent, semi-precious stone whose color is caused by embedded minerals, typically iron oxides and hydroxides. A seven on the Mohs scale of hardness (ranging from 1-10), Agate is a relatively inexpensive gemstone which, when cut and polished, becomes cabochons, beads, cameos, statuary, knife handles, and other ornaments. Children’s marbles — “aggies” — once were made from polished agate.

The healing properties of Agate are slow, steady, and gentle. Agate fosters self-confidence, helps us multi-task, and lessens our desires for things we don’t need. Agate promotes marital fidelity, protects against traffic accidents, and helps writers espress their ideas in marketable form (okay, I’m convinced — I’ll take a wagon-load!!)

Chinese Rain Flower Agates — thanks to http://www.agatelady.com for this photo

The zodiac stone for Gemini (May 22-June 21) and the mystical birthstone for September, Agate’s Chakra healing energy depends upon the color of the stone. For example, Blue Lace Agate clears the throat Chakra; Fire Agate stimulates the base Chakra; green Agate is beneficial for the heart Chakra. Likewise, Feng Shui experts believe the different varieties of Agate resonate to different purposes.

Agate is said to be helpful for digestion, headaches, arthritis, fever reduction, throat conditions, and physical strength. It’s believed to help you overcome addictive behaviors, heal bitterness of the heart, improve communication, banish fear, and improve longevity.

Clean your Agate with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Avoid exposure to heat and harsh chemicals.

Note: The claims here aren’t meant to take the place of medical advice. They’re based on folklore and other sources, and likely “work” best if one’s belief is strong enough!

Sunday’s Gem — Fluorite

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

The only common mineral with perfect cleavage in four directions is Fluorite, also called fluorspar.

Blue Fluorite (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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Sunday’s Gem — Aquamarine

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

The traditional birthstone for March is the beautiful Aquamarine, a transparent bluish member of the beryl family.

Thanks to healingcrystals.com for this photo of an uncut chunk of Aquamarine

From the Latin for “water of the sea,” Aquamarine once was valued as a green stone; today, it’s traditionally heated to bring out the blue hues the public demands.

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Sunday’s Gem — Garnet

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

Most of us think of Garnet as being a blood-red gemstone that’s the birthstone for January.

But did you know Garnet comes in lots of colors, ranging from pinks and purples, to oranges, browns, and vibrant greens? I didn’t either.

Orange, yellow, red, green, and purple African Garnets. Thanks to http://www.geology.com for this photo.

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Sunday’s Gem — Clear Quartz

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein

Composed of one part silicon and two parts oxygen (silicon dioxide), Clear Quartz (from the Greek “krystallos,” or “ice”) was once thought to be made from water frozen too hard to ever melt.

Quartz cluster, thanks to http://www.soulfulcrystals.co.uk

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