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Amber:
Amber is one of the few gemstones that is organic in origin. It comes from the entire area around the Baltic sea - from Russia to Poland to the lower Baltic Countries. Amber begins as tree sap. The sap hardens over millions of years. Baltic amber is more than 67 million years old. Occasionally, insects that got caught in the sap are preserved inside. We sell nothing but genuine Baltic amber. It is the oldest and best amber in the world.
Most amber is heat treated to add clarity. Green amber is sometimes backed with a lacquer coating on the back of the stone, to accentuate the color. Solid yellow amber is amber that is all natural - no heat treatment.
Amethyst:
Amethyst is the birthstone for February. There are three basic varieties of Amethyst, and we use all three. There is the typical Asian quality, which is fairly pale in tone. The mid-grade color usually comes from Brazil. The deep dark purple variety usually is mined in Africa. Amethyst is a variety of quartz crystal.
Ammolite:
Ammolite is an extremely rare form of opal. It is found in only one place in the world. At the Aurora Mine, in Alberta Canada, they have uncovered extremely ancient fossilized ammonite seashells, which have gradually opalized over millions of years. The stone is extremely rare and precious. Ammolite is most commonly sold as a triplet, with a protective crystal layer coating the stone, and a layer of the matrix (the sandstone the opals grow in) on the back for stability.
Aquamarine:
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March. The name "Aquamarine" refers to the pale blue, or light blue-green variety of Beryl. The finest Aquamarines are sky blue.Aquamarine is found primarily in Brazil. Other significant deposits come from Russia, Madegascar, the USA and Afghanistan. Aquamarine is commonly heat treated for color enhancement.
Cinnebar:
There is a stone called cinnabar but we do not use it in jewelry. We use the other form of Cinnebar: a substance traditionally produced from the resin of the Cinnebar tree. A pattern is pressed into the wood, and then a resin is applied to enhance color and strengthen the wood, which is naturally quite soft. Nowadays, this may be mixed with industrial resins and dyes for ease of carving.
Citrine:
Citrine is one of the birthstones for November. Citrine is a variety of crystalline quartz found in many countries. Brazil is a leading producer. Citrine is often heat treated to enhance color.
Emerald:
Emerald is the birthstone for May. It is a member of the Beryl family of gemstones. The name "Emerald" basically refers to any Beryl that is distinctly green. Emerald contains distinct inclusuions, although the very finest pieces may appear nearly eye-clean. Emerald is a soft, somewhat fragile stone, so care should be taken to protect them from damage or scratching.
Emerald occurs in many places around the world. The most famous mines are in Columbia and Brazil, but Emerald has also been found in East Africa and Pakistan.
Emerald is often heat treated to enhance color and to seal little fissures on the gem's surface.
Ethiopian Opal:
Opal is the birthstone for October. Like all opals, Ethiopian Opal is fragile. It does not crack as readily as Australian Opal, but it has one unique property that all buyers MUST be aware of: DO NOT LET THEM GET WET! It can absorb quantities of water, which will temporarily change the color of the stone. They can become colorless when wet. The color may not return for several weeks afterwards, and it might not return well at all. If they do become wet, place the opal in a bag of rice, which will help to dry it out. SHIPPING: In the winter, we will check the weather forecast before shipping opals. If it is too cold, we may hold off on shipping it to you until it warms up. Opals can freeze under certain conditions.
Garnet:
Garnet is the birthstone for January. Garnets come from all over the world. Some are heat treated for color.
Iron Pyrite:
Fool’s gold! Throughout the centuries, this stone has been mistaken for the real thing. It is really a mineral in the iron family of stones.
Jade:
Jade comes in two varieties, Jadeite and Nephrite. Both come in many varieties and colors. Nephrite is generally darker and more opaque than Jadeite. Tradewinds uses both varieties.
Labradorite:
Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar that is famous for its iridescence. It seems to glow with mystic fire. Labradorite was discovered in Canada (hence the name). There are also major sources in Finland. It is in the same family of stones as Moonstone. Labradorite grows as layers and layers of twinned crystals that all sandwich together in slabs. Slight differences in refractive index between the plates of crystal work together to bend the light in unusual ways. This is what creates the incredible play of color and light that gemologists call adularescence, which Labradorite, and its cousin Moonstone, are famous for. The lines between the twinned crystal plates called cleavage lines.
It is very important to note that the cleavage lines which occur between the layers of crystal are usually visible. On larger stones, they can be quite prominent, and may appear to be actual cracks in the stone. It is extremely rare to find a Labradorite without visible lines, therefore, all of our Labradorites will display cleavage lines –even ones chosen for gold. Please note that the lines are not cracks or damage – they are an integral part of the stone. It is even possible to feel them as you run your finger over the stone. With any other stone, that would be considered damage. Not so in Labradorite. The cleavage lines usually do not change over time, unless the piece takes an exceptionally hard knock.
Labradorite is not a particularly hard stone. It does have a tendency to lose polish over time, when worn in jewelry that takes hard use, such as rings. Taking care not to scratch your pieces will prolong the life of the stone.
Larimar:
Larimar is a stone found in only one place in the world – the Dominican Republic. This is the only place in the world where fossilized coral is mixed with the mineral Cobalt, to form a rich sky blue color.
Moonstone:
Moonstone is the birthstone for June. Moonstone is mined in many places around the world. There are several varieties.
Most of our Moonstone is mined in India. It is called Rainbow Moonstone, and it is a variety of Orthoclase, Albite Feldspar, or a mixture of the two. Moonstone grows as layers and layers of twinned crystals that all sandwich together in slabs. Slight differences in refractive index between the plates of crystal work together to bend the light in unusual ways. This is what creates the incredible play of color and light that gemologists call adularescence, which Moonstone, and its cousin Labradorite, are famous for. The lines between the twinned crystal plates called cleavage lines.
It is very important to note that the cleavage lines which occur between the layers of crystal are usually visible. On larger stones, they can be quite prominent, and may appear to be actual cracks in the stone. It is extremely rare to find a moonstone without visible lines, therefore, all of our moonstones will display cleavage lines –even ones chosen for gold. Please note that the lines are not cracks or damage – they are an integral part of the stone. It is even possible to feel them as you run your finger over the stone. With any other stone, that would be considered damage. Not so in Moonstone or Labradorite. The cleavage lines usually do not change over time, unless the piece takes an exceptionally hard knock.
Moonstone is often backed with a colored substance to enhance the natural adularescence of the stone.
Moonstone is not a particularly hard stone. It does have a tendency to lose polish over time, when worn in jewelry that takes hard use, such as rings. Taking care not to scratch your pieces will prolong the life of the stone.
Opal:
Opal is the birthstone for October. The Opal that Tradewinds uses for jewelry (unless otherwise stated) is usually Australian Precious Opal doublet or triplet (scroll down for more information on the doublet and triplet process) (Fire Opals, Boulder Opals and Ethiopian Opals are also opals, but they have their own listings on the stone information page.)
SHIPPING: In the winter, we will check the weather forecast before shipping opals. If it is too cold, we may hold off on shipping it to you until it warms up. Opals can freeze under certain conditions.
OPAL CARE: Opals are gorgeous but fragile stones. Here are a few pointers to help keep your opal in prime condition:
  1. Opals contain water, which can freeze in cold, or desiccate in extreme heat and strong sunlight. This can cause the stones to crack; so keep them away from extreme heat and cold at all times. In winter, be sure to keep your opals warm until you get inside!
  2. To help maintain the shine, and to keep your opal from drying out, rub your opal occasionally with an absorbent oil, like olive or baby oil.
  3. Opals should be kept by themselves in soft cotton, to prevent marring by other items in your jewelry box.
  4. Please note that Tradewinds does not warrantee the opal stones themselves, unless you receive them in a damaged state. If this happens, please contact us immediately.
What is an Opal?
Precious Opal is a unique stone, usually found in Australia. Precious Opal occurs in narrow veins or cracks in silica rich rocks. Water gets trapped in the rock and mixes with the silicates in the rocks to form microscopic spheres. The fiery display of color inside opals is caused by light diffraction among the spheres.
About Our Opals
Our opals (unless otherwise stated) are Australian Precious Opal doublets. Rough opal stones from the famous mines of Australia are brought to China, cut, polished, and made into doublets (a two part stone- there is a detailed description of the doublet process below). We work directly with a famous gem house in Hong Kong to obtain opal doublet of this quality at this price. Our opals are NOT mosaics or manmade imitations; the entire surface of each stone is pure natural Australian Precious Opal.
What is an Opal Doublet
Opal is a mixture of silica and water, therefore it tends to form in thin sheets. Some of the best opals are too thin to be cut into single solid stones. Opal fanciers, hating to waste perfectly good stones, have developed a great technique to make them viable. The thin layer of Precious Opal is sliced away, and cemented on to a thin layer of the sandstone that the opal grows in.
What is an Opal Triplet
Opal is a mixture of silica and water, therefore it tends to form in thin sheets. Some of the best opals are too thin to be cut into single solid stones. Opal fanciers, hating to waste perfectly good stones, have developed a great technique to make them viable. The thin layer of Precious Opal is sliced away, and cemented on to a thin layer of the sandstone that the opal grows in. Then, on top, the stone dealer has cemented a protective layer of clear quarz crystal, which protects the thin layer of opal from chips and scratches.


Pearl:
Pearl is the birthstone for June. Pearls are created when an oyster gets a foreign substance lodged inside its shell. The natural reaction of the oyster is to secrete layers of nacre around the irritating object. Over time, the layers of nacre build up, creating a beautiful pearl.
Pearls can be “farmed”. A round ball of shell is artificially introduced into the oyster, and then the oyster is returned to the water. The pearls are harvested later. Tradewinds uses both ocean pearls and freshwater pearls for its jewelry. The pearls we use may be dyed for color consistency.
Peridot:
Peridot is the birthstone for August. Peridot is a lovely green stone. It is not rare, but cut stones larger than 8x10 millimeters are extremely hard to get. Peridot stones often have visible carbon inclusions (tiny chunks of black material inside the crystal). It is one of the few stones available that is not typically heat treated for color. Peridot comes from the Mediterranean, the USA (Arizona), Burma and Brazil. Deposits have recently been discovered in the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan.
Rainbow Moonstone:
(see Moonstone)
Ruby:
Ruby is a birthstone for July. Ruby is one of the most valuable of all gemstones. A top quality stone can fetch thousands of dollars per carat. Ruby belongs in the Corundrum group of stones. Any corundum that is red or pink is considered a ruby. GEM TREATMENTS: Almost all rubies are heat treated to enhance color. Lately, a new technique has entered the market, which is called "glass filling." Tiny fractures inside the stone are filled with glass. This technique dramatically improves the transparency of the stone, and it has become so commonplace that we have to assume that at least some of our rubies have been treated with this procedure.
Sapphire:
Sapphire is the September birthstone. Sapphire is corundum that is blue in color. Corundum is one of the hardest stones (second only to diamond). It is quite rare, and stones of size and clarity can fetch extremely high prices per carat.
Shell:
Shells, unlike stones, are usually set in jewelry as they are without modification such as cutting. Because of this, the likelihood of any two shells being exactly alike is slight. With all of our shell products we try to keep the quantity of any one style fairly standard. But before purchasing a shell it is important that you keep in mind that the shell you receive may not perfectly match the photo displayed online. Shells will be close, but they may vary in size, color and pattern variation. And as shells are natural, all may have inclusions, nicks, scratches or other little bits of proof that these are items of the world and not man-made.
Photos do not do justice to the shimmering play of colors found in shells. The camera is not as sophisticated as the eye.
Many of our shells come from the underside of Oyster shells.
Topaz:
Topaz that is yellow is the birthstone for November. (Tradewinds does not carry this stone; it is very expensive and good quality Citrine works just as well.) Topaz that is blue is the birthstone for December. Blue Topaz is usually heat treated and occasionally irradiated to enhance color.
Tourmaline:
Tourmaline is a birthstone for October. Tourmaline grows in an astonishing variety of colors. The most common is black tourmaline, followed by browns, greens and yellows. The rarest colors are pink, red, and teal blue. Tourmaline is found in pegmatite deposits all over the world, but the leading source is Brazil.
Turquoise:
Turquoise is a birthstone for December. Tradewinds uses mostly Asian Turquoise, unless specially noted. Most of our Turquoise is mined in China, along the Tibetan Plateau. Turquoise is a mineral that comes from soil mixing with groundwater laden with copper, aluminum, and phosphorus. The blue color in Turquoise comes from copper. Green is produced when iron is present.
Turquoise often has black or grey lines called “spider-webbing.” This occurs when Turquoise nodules are mixed with the matrix of fine sands or silts occur with turquoise.
Natural Turquoise may display sensitivity to acids. Take care not to expose Turquoise to chemicals of any kind. Even individuals with particularly acidic PH balance in their skin can, over time, experience alteration in the color of the turquoise. The color can darken, or turn more green or more blue. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs only in genuine natural Turquoise.