About Coloured Gemstones
Typically considered the most “classic” choice for an engagement ring, diamonds are by no means the only option! Suiting all personalities and styles, gemstones used in vintage jewellery are as colourful as the rainbow and in the Victorian era, engagements were often celebrated with rings using birthstones instead of diamonds, with diamond engagement rings only becoming popular in the 1930’s.
For the non-traditional bride-to-be, we have a wide selection of coloured engagement rings to choose from, no matter which colour is your favourite! Read more about our most popular gemstones below, some of the details about these coloured gemstones may surprise you!
Sapphires are a member of the “corundum” family and, aside from red, refer to all colours of corundum. Sapphires actually come in a wide variety of colours, including pink, green and yellow. Sapphire rings can be very affordable with a hard and durable stone that is beautiful but not considered rare. 90% of sapphires are heat treated to enhance their colour, which is both stable and permanent.
Rubies are also a member of the “corundum” family and refer to all the red stones of this family. “Pigeon’s blood” is the most desirable shade of ruby, a pure red with just a hint of blue. A large, rare ruby will often be more expensive than a diamond, although many vintage ruby rings are fairly inexpensive compared to diamonds. Rubies are also a hard and durable gemstone and are also heat treated to enhance their colour.
Emeralds are a member of the “beryl” family. Chrome in its chemical colour gives it its green colour. Emeralds are typically “cloudy”, however, these are not seen as faults since the majority of emeralds are clouded this way. Completely transparent emeralds are both extremely rare and very expensive! Whilst emeralds are a fairly soft stone and care needs to be taken to avoid scratches and breakages, if your vintage emerald engagement ring is cared for, it will last several lifetimes.
Opals are primarily made up of between 3% and 30% water and it is this that makes them extremely fragile, meaning that a little extra care must be taken if you choose to wear a vintage opal ring! Most opals have what’s called “play of colour” referring to the rainbow of colours that flash when an opal catches light, this is caused by the silica spheres that are stacked up in an orderly fashion, one on top of the other. 97% of the world’s opals come from Australia.
Tourmalines can come in almost any colour you can imagine, although they are typically seen in green or pink, some can even have mixed colours like a ring of green with a centre core of pink tourmaline. Mined mainly in Brazil, they can also be found in Africa and the USA. Tourmaline can be become electrically charged, called pyro-electricity, when heated and cooled and applying pressure such as rubbing it on a surface - the stone will then attract dust and particles! It is for this reason that they should be cleaned more often than other gemstones.
Jade’s value lies in its beauty and is judged by its colour, texture, translucency and size. Most often thought of as a green mineral, it can be found in a variety of colours including brown and lavender. Imperial Jade is the most coveted type of jade and is a rich emerald green colour that is translucent to almost transparent. The majority of jade had undergone some form of dying or heat treatment to improve its colour.
The most highly valued gemstone in the quartz family, amethyst ranges in colour from light lavender to deep rich purple. Used in jewellery throughout the centuries by Egyptians, Greeks and medieval Europeans to name a few, it was a favourite of the Christian church and used in religious jewellery. Heating amethyst can change its colour to green and these gemstones are called “Prasiolite”. Amethyst is mined in Brazil, Madagascar, Russia and the USA.
Citrine is a yellow or golden variety of the quartz family, with naturally coloured citrine being very light yellow and extremely rare. Most citrine is actually light coloured amethyst or smoky quartz that has been heated to bring out a rich yellow colour.
Turquoise entered Europe via a trade route through Turkey and was therefore known as the “Turkish Stone”. It’s an opaque stone that is bluish-green commonly including spots or veins called “matrix”, turquoise without the matrix is extremely valuable! It is a soft, porous stone and can scratch easily or be discoloured with oils from the skin or lotions. The most highly prized turquoise is Persian turquoise with an intense blue colour that is free of any matrix.
Aquamarines are semi-precious blue-green stones with an incredible glass-like lustre to them. This gemstone can range in colour from very light blue to a dark blue mixed with degrees of green. Aquamarines are the same as emeralds in term of crystal structure, with the only difference being the chemical composition, which aquamarines blue and emeralds green. Most aquamarines are mined in Brazil but are also found in Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Mozambique and Afghanistan to name a few countries.