Murduff's Goldsmiths and Engravers


Gem Guide
Gem Guide   Alexandrite. This gem actually changes color from green in daylight to red in incandescent light. The very first crystals were discovered in April 1834 in the emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in the Urals. This discovery was made on the day the future tsar came of age, hence it was named for the Russian tsar Alexander II (1818-1881).

In 1987 a new Alexandrite was discovered in Brazil. The Hematita Alexandrite changes from raspberry red to bluish green.

Alexandrite is beautiful and top quality, however it is very rare and hardly ever used in modern jewelry.

Alexandrite can assist one in centering the self, reinforcing self-esteem, and augmenting ones ability to experience joy.

Alexandrite is the birthstone for the month of June. Alexandrite is the symbolic gemstone for the 55th wedding anniversary.

Gem Guide
 
Amethyst. The Greek work "amethystos" can be translated as "not drunken." Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it. Today this gemstone still symbolizes sobriety.

The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from Greek myths. Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish. Along came unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned Amethyst into a stature of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god's tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know today.

The color purple is traditionally the color of royalty and amethyst has been used since the dawn of history to adorn the rich and powerful monarchs and rulers. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty.

In medieval times, amethyst was still credited with protecting one from the effects of drunkenness, both of the cup and also from the intoxicating effects of being in love. The wearing of amethyst was also known to protect soldiers from harm and give them victory over their enemies, and assist hunters with the capture of wild animals.

The astrological signs of amethyst are Pisces, Virgo, Aquarius and Capricorn. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February. Amethyst is the symbolic gemstone for the 17th wedding anniversary.


Gem Guide  
Aquamarine derives its name from the Latin for 'sea water'. According to legend it was the treasure of mermaids, and it was believed to be a particularly strong charm when immersed in water.

As a talisman aquamarine was variously believed to cure laziness, quicken the intellect and provide courage in the Middle Ages. It was believed to contain the power of the sea and so was dedicated to a number of sea goddesses, including the Greek love goddess, Aphrodite, whose name means born of the foam. Sailors used it as an amulet to keep them safe from storms and bring them securely home.

The biggest aquamarine ever mined was found at the city of Marambaia, Minas Gerais. It weighed over 110 kg, and its dimensions were 48.5 cm long and 42 cm in diameter.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for the month of March. Aquamarine is the symbolic gemstone for the 19th wedding anniversary.
Gem Guide  
Citrine is one of the two traditional birthstones for November, is known also as citrine quartz and citrine topaz, as it ranges from yellow to brown. It is a form of quartz with ferric iron impurities, and is rarely found naturally.

Citrine is found predominantly in Brazilian mines, with much of its production coming from the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

It is believed that in some ancient cultures, citrine was used to protect people from evil thoughts and snake venom.

While all citrine is individually gorgeous, most favor the darker "sherry"-colored variety.

Gem Guide   Diamond. The Romans believed that diamonds brought courage and bravery during battle. Jewish high priests used diamonds to decide the innocence or guilt of the accused: A stone held before a guilty person dulled and darkened; a stone held before an innocent person glowed with increased brilliance.

The Hindus believed that this brilliant gem was created when bolts of lightning struck rocks. To be effective as a talisman, the gem would have to be given as a token of love or friendship. If bought or sold, it would lose its powers.

Diamonds are said to increase personal clarity to help one see things clearly as well as be straight-forward and honest. Supposedly, the higher quality the diamond, the better it is supports these qualities. A symbol of innocence, justice, faith and strength, the diamond was believed to make its wearers courageous and victorious over their enemies. When set in gold and worn on the left side, it held the power to drive away nightmares and soothe savage beasts. Diamonds were even thought to be so powerful that they could stop lechery.

Diamond quality is evaluated by four characteristics, called the "4 C's": carat weight, clarity, color and cut. Though many people like to debate the value of each characteristic, most good jewelers agree that a balance of all four characteristics make a good quality diamond. They are cut, the better cut a diamond, the more brilliant; clarity, the purer a diamond, the more brilliant; carat, the larger a diamond, the rarer; color, the more pure the color in a diamond, the more rare.

Diamond is referred to as the King Gem; Pearl is often referred to as the "Queen Gem".

Gem Guide   Emerald. The most valuable gemstone in the world, based on weight, is emerald, easily recognized by its lustrous green shine caused by trace amounts of chromium and, less often, iron.

Historically first used by the Eyptians, the first high-profile admirer of the stone was the queen Cleopatra, who had her own mines during her reign. At least one of her mines has been discovered by archeologists, but they were beat to it by looters.

The most valuable emeralds would be discovered in Colombia. The Aztecs and the Inca's used emeralds in their worship rituals, and in the 1500's, when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived, they were quickly taken away, only to be lost at sea due to shipwrecks.

Emerald has sometimes been believed to have medicinal purposes, and said to have properties able to soothe strained and tired eyes, break fevers, prevent epileptic attacks, and even cure digestive problems if used in a "gem elixir." Additionally, it has also had a role in meditation, and improvement of concentration.

Emeralds have found their way into a mythos and fantasy most jewels do not, most notably through Frank L. Baum's book, and its consequent film, The Wizard of Oz. The character Dorothy visits the Emerlad City-city so splendid in its greenery, that she, like all the citizens of the city, must wear protective green-tinted glasses to protect her eyes from the shine.


Gem Guide   Garnet. While especially known for their rich, purple-red color, garnets actually come in the following hues: red, purple, green, yellow, orange, and even brown, black, and colorless. In 1990's, blue garnets were manufactured in Madasgascar, although these stones are incredibly rare.

Traced back to the Bronze Age, garnet would find prominence in Egyptian decoration, Greek jewelry, and in the Bible. Found on every continent, garnet has become the birthstone for the month of January.

As determined in the Middle Ages, the powers associated with garnet include properties of healing, strength, and protection. It was used to alleviate skin inflammations, heart and blood flow irregularities, and ward off depression.

To give someone a garnet as a gift before they travel, signifies an insurance that they will be safe in their travels, and will return in good health.


Gem Guide   Jade. There are two types of Jade: Jadeite and Nephrite.

Jadeite is rarer and the highest quality is known as imperial Jade. It comes in many colors: red, yellow, green, lilac, black, orange, white, pink, blue and brown, and has a hardness of 7.

Nephrite Jade is more common and is often used in Chinese carvings. This type of jade comes in various tones of green -- mostly with an olive green tone. Jadeite is from Myanmar, Japan, and USA; Alaska and California. Nephrite Jade is from Myanmar, Russia, China and Wyoming, in the United States.

Jade is said to help one relax. It is considered a very balanced stone -- it helps one in both the vision of tasks to do as well as doing the actual tasks. Jade has been thought of as the concentrated essence of love. In China, jade is regarded as a special stone. It is believed that when handled some of the secret virtue of the substance is absorbed into the body. Legends have it that the Spanish conquers of Central America wore amulets of Jadeite to prevent/cure hip and kidney complaints.

Gem Guide   Onyx has always attracted those with a different sense of style. Usually not worn as a piece by itself, Onyx has usually been a supporter piece to other pieces of jewelry, usually as a backdrop of some sort. Onyx originates from the Greek word "Onux" meaning fingernail.

Unlike its modern meaning however, Onyx meant any color ranging from black to fingernail white or brown were called Onyx, it was with the Romans that Onyx became to mean specifically black or dark brown colors. Another form of Onyx is Sardonyx.

Sardonyx is reddish brown and white and was highly valued in Rome, especially for seals as it was said to never stick to wax. Usually used for carving or backdrops, it will certainly add a bit of mystery and allure to any piece of jewelry.

Gem Guide   Opal. One of the oldest stones in circulation, Opals have always been regarded as beautiful gifts from the gods. Said to have been created by the rainbow itself, Opals reflect the very elements themselves; from the fire reds of the sunset, to the deep blues of the skies and oceans. Each Opal shares only one thing in common with another; their ability to shine and dazzle with an array of various colors.

Deriving from the Sanskrit word "Upala" meaning valuable stone, the stone's name changed throughout the ages to the Greeks with "Opallios" meaning color change, until finally the Romans named it "Opalus" meaning stone from several different elements.

What made Opals so interesting was that up until the 1960's no one understood why the Opal stones reflected so many different colors. During the 1960's, Australian scientists used an electron microscope to find that rather than being made up of complex crystal structure, the inside of Opals was compacted spheres of silica that reflected the light, creating the various colors of the rainbow through reflection and refraction.

95% of Opal stones are found in Australia. The remaining five- percent can be found sporadically in Brazil, Mexico, and even in such states as Idaho and Nevada.

Opal is a very personal stone due to its fragile nature. Being two to six-percent water, the stone requires that it be worn frequently, so that it may acquire the necessary humidity from the air as well as from the skin. Therefore, it is not a good idea to keep these stones in dry, hot places, else cracks and fissures will appear within the stone and it will lose its brilliance. Likewise, due to its relatively modest rating on the Mohs scale (5-6), the wearer should encase the stone in a clear resin, or find another way to keep the stone safe from tarnish and scratches when not in use.

Opal value is determined by rareness, size, color and the other basic attributes that define a good gem, another factor is highly important when measuring the quality of an Opal gem: play of color. Black, gray and crystal Opals are the three most expensive and luxurious categories for Opal's, and of course Mexican Fire Opal. With these base colors, the colors that the Opal reflects is brilliant and vibrant; the deeper the core color (black, gray etc.) the more luminous the reflecting colors. For its wearer, Opals' reflect emotions itself. Said to aid in calming its wearer, it will help dissolve depression as well as help find the true and lasting love. One of October's birthstones, it is guaranteed to not only be a great anniversary gift but truly a gift of emotion.


Gem Guide   Pearl is a symbol of love. Everyone seems to love the beauty of a strand of pearls. Pearl necklaces are classic pieces of jewelry that are treasured. Pearl is the modern birthstone of June. Natural pearls are formed in shellfish as a reactant to an irritant such as a piece of sand.

Cultured pearls are created by adding a piece of mussel or shell inside of an oyster or another mussel. This then creates a pearl as layers of the inside of the shell grow over the added substance. Pearls are generally white, brown, silver, cream, black or pink depending on the type of shellfish and water origin.

Pearl is said to help one see themselves and help improve self-worth. Giving a loved one a gift of natural pearls is one of the nicest gifts one can give. It allows the wearer to see the love of the person who gave them the pearls.

Pearls were once thought to be the tears of God. Pearl is often referred to as the "Queen Gem," while Diamond is referred to as the King Gem. As an emblem of modesty, chastity and purity, the Pearl symbolizes love, success, and happiness. They often symbolize a happy marriage and in many countries are used as a wedding gift.

Gem Guide
 
Peridot is a beautiful olive green stone. It is worn in necklaces, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Peridot is found in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Myanmar, Norway, and in the USA, specifically Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, and New Mexico.

Peridot is the created during volcanic action. Occasionally, Peridot crystals are found on the black sands of Hawaii. Peridot is used to help dreams become a reality. Peridot is given as a symbol of fame, dignity, and protection.

Legend has it that pirates favored peridot to protect them against evil. When the peridot was set in gold it also protected the wearer from terrors in the night. Peridot has been mined from St John's Island in the Red Sea for over 3500 years.
Gem Guide   Ruby. Ruby-red, Ruby slippers, passion, love. The aforementioned words are the various keywords associated with one of the most popular gemstones: Rubies. A member of the Corundum family, they are hardest second only to Diamonds sharing a hardness scale of 9 with its brother Sapphires. As a matter of fact, anything not red in the Corundum family is known as a Sapphire, unless it is a rare colorless Corundum.

Known in Sanskrit as "ratnaraj" or King of Gems, the Ruby is an impressive brilliant stone that reflects the passions and desires of its wearer. Occurring in places like Myanmar, and neighboring countries of Vietnam on the Chinese border the more precious Rubies are known as Burmese Rubies. They are named not because they have Burmese Origin, but rather because the Rubies have a similar color to the famous occurrences in Burma, or modern day Myanmar. That color being a deep red with a slightly blue hue. Also dubbed "dove-blood-red," the more accurate term for a description of such rare Rubies is "Burma-colored."

Another area that produces Rubies is Thailand. However, where the other rubies produce vibrant red Rubies, Thailand Rubies are a dark red on the verge of brown, are said to have a "Siamese color." Other places for Rubies are East Africa, Laos, Nepal, and Afghanistan. Where other gemstones are examined and judged based on a variety of qualifications, the measure of a Ruby is placed primarily on its color.

Normally other materials such as liquids, gases, or solids appearing in a gemstone would decrease the value of the stone. In Rubies the opposite is true; unless these inclusions interfere with the clarity of the stone, the stone will possibly become even more valuable, seeing that these incursions act as a sort of proof of authenticity of the Ruby. A gift of passion, love, desire, Rubies are not only the perfect gift for those with July birthdays, but for anyone whom a carnal desire is felt.


Gem Guide   Sapphire. Existing in all shades of blue, from the bright sky blue of a summer's afternoon to the deepest depths of the ocean, Sapphire has always held a mesmerizing hold over those who gaze into it. Unknown to most is that Sapphire also can come in other colors besides blue, such as red, pink, orange, and purple, almost as if it were a sunset in a stone.

Although Sapphire's bring up images of blue skies or deep oceans, there is a category of Sapphire's known as the fancy Sapphires, or Sapphire's that are yellow, purple, pink, white, or green. It is with these stones that the wearer will truly express his or her individual expression seeing that these ‘fancy Sapphires' are truly the rarest of the rare. Located in India, Burma, Ceylon, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil and Africa, the stones price and rarity is affected by where the stones originated. Burma and Ceylon Sapphire stones are among the costlier group of Sapphire stones, however, other factors account for the price of a stone as well. For example, the treatment, or which is now preferred, lack of treatment to a stone will heavily effect the price. In today's market, the less a Sapphire stone is chemically treated, the more expensive it is.

Symbolizing loyalty, faithfulness, Sapphire is an ideal stone for engagement rings as it also is said to have powers in stabilizing emotions and enhancing communication and understanding while at the same time, expressing deep love and desire.

Their high hardness (9) makes them easy to care for seeing they're hardest next to only diamonds, and require only the usual attention and care from its owner.

Being September's birthstone, it makes not only the perfect gift for anniversaries or birthdays, but due to its rarity, and beauty a gift that anyone can truly cherish.



Gem Guide   Tanzanite. Home to only one place, Tanzania, the jewelry mogul Tiffany's & Co. turned this precious blue colored stone into a hot commodity to own.

Due to how it forms, Tanzanite is usually mined in small portions in Africa, not because there is no need or desire for the precious stone, but rather because it is extremely difficult to find a crystal vein that produces a large enough size crystal. Hence, its rarity, popularity, and of course high cost.

Originally, Tanzanite was named blue Zoisite, but when it was initially marketed, Tiffany & Co. decided to rename it, fearing the original name sounded too similar to the word "suicide."

Because of its brilliant blue and purple hues, the wearer of this stone omits an air of confidence and individuality, and if the Tanzanite is cut perfectly, it reflects not only an aura of attractiveness of its wearer, but also the individuality of a mature wearer. Tanzanite is an ideal gift for someone whom you think is special and truly, one in a million.

Gem Guide   Topaz Through the ages, Topaz has always been associated with the various Gods of the Sun, due to its golden appearance. Usually Topaz appears in shades of brown or gold, with the most brilliant having an amber gold color similar to cognac.

Topaz is said to have various abilities for its wearer including, improved vision and clarity, healing with the various phases of the moon, as well as the curing of insomnia, asthma, and hemorrhages.

The most famous Topaz is the piece set in the Portuguese Crown called the "Braganza" which at first was thought to be a diamond.

Brown, yellow, orange, sherry, and red Topaz can be found in Brazil and Sri Lanka. Pink Topaz can mainly be found in Pakistan and Russia. Blue Topaz that is found primarily in Brazil, Sri Lanka and China is formed by exposure to radiation.

Topaz shares the month of November with Citrine as its birthstone.

Gem Guide
 
Tourmaline Also known as the "Rainbow Gemstone," Tourmaline comes in an array of colors such as reds and greens, as well as yellow to blue. Tourmaline is especially fascinating because of its ability to show more than one color at a time. In fact, it is rare if tourmaline is found in one color.

Deriving from the Senegalese expression "tura mali" or "stone of mixed colors," the name exemplifies the truly unique quality of Tourmaline. Said to have a strong influence on friendship and love, the stone makes an excellent gift for the stability and longevity of newly formed relationships.

To have a better understanding of Tourmaline's range of colors, a better understanding of gemology is needed. Tourmalines are made up of complex crystals with varying composition; any change in this composition can result in a completely different color to appear. Likewise, due to the complex crystal structure of Tourmalines, looking at them through various angles and different forms of light (artificial versus sunlight) will result in a different intensity of the color. In fact, the deepest color will always appear at the axis, or center of the stone, an important factor for gemstone cutter to keep in mind. It is because of these various complex crystal formations that different colors of Tourmalines exist.

Deep red Tourmaline is dubbed "Rubelite," that is if it shows the same intensity of color in various lights. If it shows different color intensity in artificial light, it is then called pink Tourmaline. Similar nicknames for Tourmaline exist for the various color intensities it can show. Found everywhere in the world, the most important occurrences are in Sri Lanka, Brazil, South and Southwest Africa.

Gem Guide
 
Zircon. Naturally formed, this stone is often confused with cubic zirconia, the man-made diamond imitation. Possibly hailing from the Persian word zargum meaning "gold-colored," the stone itself can come in a variety of colors, ranging from colorless to the more popular blue zircon.

Zircon was originally believed to possess abilities to aid its wearer in restful sleep, prosperity, honor and wisdom. Today the stone is a collector's favorite due to its beauty, rarity and relatively low cost. Hailing mainly from the east, the stone is mined heavily in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Australia.

The stone is quite hard (7.5), but it is suggested that the wearer store the stone carefully when not in use and, like all jewelry, not wear it when using heavy or caustic materials.