Jewellery Stories
By The Jewel Box
27 Oct 2017

Diamond alternatives: Unconventional gemstones

Diamond alternatives - Kunzite Ring by The Jewel Box

The search for unique jewellery is on the rise, and with this comes the sourcing of diamond alternatives and unconventional gemstones.

Apart from emeralds, sapphires and rubies, people are increasingly taking a liking to other precious stones such as kunzite, tanzanite, morganite, onyx and blue topaz. These diamond alternatives have a hidden beauty waiting to be unearthed and discovered.

Kunzite is a pink variety of the mineral spodumene and was first discovered in the United States. It got its name from George Kunz, jeweller and gem specialist, who discovered the stone. The pink hues of the stone change colour when you look at it from different angles, sometimes appearing violet or even colourless.

Often associated with the kunzite is the morganite. This stone has a pastel pink hue and was found in California. Its name was derived from JP Morgan, a customer of kunzite founder, George Kunz. Morganite is a variety of beryl, and the presence of manganese in the beryl leads to a rich pink hue. The colours of both kunzite and morganite have a calming effect.

Tanzanite is found only in one place and that is the East African state of Tanzania, of which it got its name. They say a great fire in Tanzania caused stones to turn violet blue. Cattle herders found these stones and were their first collectors. Tanzanites have to be heated for their original orangey-brown colour to turn to blue.

Onyx is a chalcedony quartz. Onyx means ‘claw’ or ‘fingernail’, and is a stone popular with the Greeks and Romans. Myths say that cupid once used an arrow to snip of the fingernails of Venus. These black stones are a result of the clippings which fell to Earth. This stone is popularly used as a backdrop for colour play in jewellery.

Blue topaz is an alternative to blue aquamarine. Topaz originally exists in amber gold or peach, and some say it got its name from the Sanskrit word ‘tapas’ which means fire.

George Elliot once said, ‘These gems have life in them, their colours speak, say what words fail of.’ With their colours and stories so vibrant and attractive, it’s no wonder we have this affinity to them.

Non-diamond gemstones can only get more exciting as we uncover them.

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