Have you really thought about how gemstones are formed? I hadn’t. I’d never given it a thought. I just oohed and ahhed over the gorgeous jewelry that I’d see in magazines and on the red carpet. Then, I got the wonderful opportunity to work in the Gemstones Department here at Stuller and everything I’ve learned since the day I started has blown my mind.
It takes me back to my grade school days of learning about the layers of the earth. And how earth’s crust is basically just plates that float on top of its mantle. Thus, creating mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes. In my mind, all of this was an age old story. The majesties of the Rocky Mountains and the fury of Mount St. Helen were remarkable landmarks that had been around for centuries. What did they have to do with the amazing jewelry I’d just seen adorning all of the celebrities for the Oscar’s? The answer: everything.
These same “floating plates” that have rubbed together to form mountains and volcanoes are also creating the perfect environment for gemstone formation: pressure, temperature, space and some pretty “special ingredients”. The “special ingredients” or elements that make up the earth’s crust are: Oxygen: 46.60%; Silicon: 27.72%; Aluminum: 8.13%; Iron: 5.00%; Calcium: 3.63%; Magnesium: 2.09%; Boron: 0.0010%; Beryllium: 0.00026%. When these elements are combined with temperature, pressure and a whole lot of time, it creates all sorts of gemstone species. (The rarer the element, the rarer the gem.) But that’s not all! The earth sometimes throws in extra ingredients into our recipe called trace elements to achieve color variants or some distinctive optical phenomenon. For example: The gemstone species corundum is made up of the elements oxygen and aluminum. When you throw in a little titanium and iron, you’ll get a deep blue sapphire, but if chromium is added to the mix, you’ll be surprised with a red ruby. How cool is that?! Nature has created something so incredible and complex with no human involvement. I can totally understand how some rare stones are valued at millions of dollars.
This knowledge has truly given me a new appreciation for my gemstone lovelies. Each stone that passes my desk has been meticulously hand crafted in nature, and I am in total awe of it all.