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One of the defining characteristics of agate is its fineness of grain and brightness of color. It is generally associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks, although may be found in various kinds of rock. Use of agate was widespread in the ancient world with a number of sites such as at the Knossos site on Crete illustrating its role in Bronze Age Minoan culture.
Traditionally worn to guard against drunkeness and to instill a sober mind, the name amethyst comes from the ancient Greek ἀ a- ("not") and μέθυστος méthystos ("intoxicated").
Originating in countries such Brazil, Colombia, Zambia, Madagascar, and Kenya, aquamarine is sometimes called "Water of the Sea" because of its colour. For this reason it is also classed as the stone of sailors as it believed to offer protection whilst on the water.
Aventurine is a form of quartz famous for its translucency and inclusions that give a shimmering or glistening effect termed aventurescence. The most common colour of aventurine is green, the majority of which originates in India where it is employed by prolific artisans.
With an unknown origin, some scientists have speculated that black diamond, also known as carbonado, may have originated from a supernova which occurred at least 3.8 billion years ago that later fell to earth around 2.3 billion years ago.
With a long history of use for hard-stone carving and jewellery, onyx was used in Egypt as early as the Second Dynasty to make bowls and other pottery items. It was also known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Prized for its extreme hardness, vivid colour and sheer beauty, blue sapphire is a highly sought-after timeless stone that will never go out of fashion. Designated as a birthstone for September, blue sapphire is one of the most classic precious gems.
With a history that goes back at least two thousand years, blue topaz is one of the gemstones which form the foundations of the twelve gates to the Holy City of the New Jerusalem. Blue topaz is also the state gemstone of Texas. Naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare. Typically, quartz is colourless, grey or pale yellow and blue material is often heat treated and irradiated to produce a darker blue.
Referred to as the "merchant's stone" or "money stone", due to the superstitious belief that it would bring prosperity, Citrine is the 13th anniversary gemstone and is a variety of quartz whose colour ranges from a pale yellow to brown because of ferric impurities. With the naked eye it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between citrine and yellow topaz, although they differ in hardness. Brazil is the leading producer of citrine and the name critrine is derived from the Latin word citrina which means "yellow" and is also the origin of the word "citron".
Also spelled as carnelian, cornelian is a brownish-red mineral which is commonly used as a semi-precious gemstone. Most commonly found in Brazil, India, Siberia and Germany, cornelian is one of the oldest known gemstones, with written records dating back over 4000 years. It was highly prized and worn by many of the world's noble people throughout ancient times.