Gemstones or precious stones are pieces of mineral crystals which can be cut, polished and shaped to beautifully reflect its inherent color and light to the beholder. These crystals are used as centerpieces or adornments for jewelry or other decorative items, such as watches or showpieces. Certain rocks like lapis lazuli, or organic products like pearl and amber are also considered as gemstones. Out of over 130 different types of precious stones available on earth, the current origins of four popular types are discussed below for reference.
Opals are found commonly all over the world but all are not in the precious stone category. The stones of high quality and beauty are found in the Australian Outback gem mines. These mines account for over 90% of the world’ total precious, jewelry-grade opals. Some opal mines of Ethiopia have also started production of high-quality white opals, popularly known as Welo opals. The fire opals of Mexico are bright, yellow-colored stones favored greatly by the jewelers of today.
The Burmese (now Myanmar) Ruby has been greatly prized the world over for its rarity and demand due to its special intrinsic qualities. The “pigeon-blood” Burmese rubies are some of the rarest and most sought-after gemstones in the world. These rubies radiate light and display a dazzling kaleidoscope under ultraviolet or sun ray. Myanmar still has a considerable number of ruby mines, but the general quality has come down from the previous yields. East African nations like Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar are the newer sources of these fine gemstones since the 1960s. Also, new ruby deposits have been found in Vietnam and Greenland in recent times.
The Columbian emeralds command the best value in the world due to its high quality and steady production since the ancient times. These green gemstones contain chromium, which is responsible for its intrinsic coloring. The other South American country producing good quality emeralds is Brazil. The precious stones from its mines contain traces of vanadium and are tinged with a slight gray or brown color. Zambia in Africa also produces high-quality emeralds. The Zambian stones contain iron traces but are clearer than the other produces and often reflect a bluish-green color. The more modern emerald findings include the Panjsheer Valley mines of Afghanistan, whose quality is comparable to the Columbian gemstones.
The best quality and the most beautiful-looking blue sapphires came from the mines in the Kashmir region of India in the past. These “cornflower blue” gemstones currently occupy places of pride in the jewelry collections of the connoisseurs and museums. The Myanmar sapphires from the Mogok region are also prized all over the world. Sri Lanka produces the most number of these gemstones in many other colors along with the signature blue. The American state of Montana also produces light-blue and pink sapphires on a smaller scale.