Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ruby Red Garnets

Ruby red garnets resemble the jeweled interior of a pomegranate. Glistening red seeds cling to each other in the most intricate patterns. These seeds are encased in deep red and cut through on the inside by creamy flesh. Pomegranates through the ages have represented abundance, fertility, and passion. Their rich color and textures evoke the essence of all things rich and beautiful.

It is from these delectable fruits that some experts believe garnets derived their name. The word 'pomegranate' contains the root 'granate'. The Medieval Latin word 'granatum' means 'dark red', and it is believed that 'garnet' is a modification of this root word meaning deep, dark red.{1} While not all garnets are red, the richly colored varieties have been the most popular throughout the ages.

Like their namesake fruits, red garnets are associated with passion, life force, and love. They have also been closely connected to travelers, providing both protection and visibility. Some believe that Noah, the famous boat builder of old, navigated at night by the light of a garnet-powered lantern.{2} We know today that in and of themselves, garnets do not emit light. Rather, they harness and release it in the same way that rubies and other luminous gemstones do.

Garnets are closely associated with rubies, as well, often being found in the same vicinity as corundum. During the 15th and 16th centuries, garnets were often confused with rubies and other red gemstones found in similar areas, like spinels. Pliny the Elder, one of the first Europeans to categorically describe gemstones and minerals, lumped most red gemstones into the category he called carbunculus. Each red carbuncle was given a characteristic- and location-specific name by various historians, often relating to the burning or smoldering item its color suggested. For example, Greeks called all bright red stones 'pyropus' because "they appear to be burning."{3}

Garnets have been found in Burma in the ancient village called Syrian during the infamous reign of the great kings of Pegu. Here they were discovered interspersed with their cousins, spinels and rubies. Garnets are also found in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Bohemia (Czech Republic).

Czech garnets are "small but beautiful stones."{4} Czech jewelers set these rich red stones in tightly cloistered settings so that they resemble a pomegranate. According to Dr. Simeon Shaw, writing in 1823, the most celebrated garnets were those that hail from Burma. In particular, those that were cherry red and pinkish-violet. Today, it seems the most popular are the deep, deep blood reds which are favored the most by Steampunk and Goth Rocker brides.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. GemSelect. "Garnet Gemstone Information." Accessed from on July 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Agricola, Georgius. De Natura Fossilium (Textbook of Mineralogy), Dover Edition (unabridged version of Latin version from 1546, published in 1955). Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2004.
  4. Jewels For Me. "Garnet History." Accessed from on July 24, 2015.
  5. Shaw, Simeon, LLD. Nature Displayed in the Heavens, and on the Earth, According to the Latest Observations and Discoveries. London: G. and W. B. Whitaker, 1823.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The King of Pegu

This Vintage Burmese Ruby Engagement Ring demonstrates the
tantalizing essence of the King of Pegu's vast treasures of rubies,
sapphires, and spinels. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

"The King of Pegu had treasure houses full of gold and silver, rubies, sapphires, spinels, and other precious stones," writes Sir Harry Johhnston in his book, The Great Pioneers of India, Ceylon, Bhutan, and Tibet.{1}

The book chronicles the visitation of Pegu by all manner of men throughout the ages. Both the adventures of Lewes Vertomannus (known widely as Varthema, in 1503) and Ralph Fitch (in 1583) are of note in describing the vast ruby treasures of the King of Pegu.

Though Varthema visited Pegu earlier, it is Fitch's adventure which draws the more relevant boundaries of this land for a modern day reader. Fitch called the land of Pegu, Burma. Today we know it is Myanmar, a country rich in treasure which lies nestled between the vast country of India and the smaller tropical oasis known as Thailand.

In 1759, in the British publication The Modern Part of an Univer[s]al Hi[s]tory, from the Earlie[s]t Time, Burma was part of the vast Kingdom of Pegu. It lay 'between the 110th and 116th degrees of longitude, and between the 14th and 19th degrees of north latitude,' an area of 350 miles in length and breadth, bordered by Siam, Arrakan, Ava, and the Bay of Bengal.{2}

Ralph Fitch visited Syrian (also called Pegu), the capital city of Burma, while it remained "in its greatest was very [s]pacious, fair, and [s]trong, [s]urrounded with [s]tone walls and very wide ditches."{3} The old part of the city belonged to the merchants and traveling foreigners. It was plagued by frequent fires which could destroy the thatch houses in mere minutes. Therefore, warehouses fashioned out of bricks dotted the landscape to provide safer storage for merchant commodities.{4}

The newer section of the city boasted twenty stone gates with gilded turrets and streets that ran perfectly straight from one gate to another. These broad streets were lined with avenues of palm trees, and the surrounding houses were made of wood with tile roofs.{5}

The king's palace, made entirely of gilded wood with tiles of silver decorating the pagoda, blazed in golden glory in this higher class region.{6} It was here where both Fitch and Varthema made their separate acquaintances with the King of Pegu, a man who "wore rubies worth the ransom of a large city...on his toes...[and] great rings of gold set with beautiful rubies" on his legs.{7}

In Sir Johnston's book, we read about the lengthy exchange made between Varthema and the King of Pegu. During their meeting with the king, Varthema and his Persian companion showed the king some red coral. So fascinated was the monarch by this new red treasure, that he offered to pay them for it in rubies. Shrewd as he was, the Persian merchant offered the coral to the king as a gift.

In response, the King of Pegu declared that he would not be outdone by Persian generosity. He ordered the presentation of "a certain little box...worked all round in gold."{6} Immaculately decorated with rubies, this box contained six sections filled with rubies. He placed it before the two men, telling them to take what they wished for their good pleasure. Varthema and his companion went home with 200 rubies of the highest Burmese quality. The Persian merchant's share was recorded in value at 20,000 pounds.{7}

It is no surprise that when cash was low, the King of Pegu paid for things with rubies. The gorgeous red gemstones were the king commodity of Pegu, coming in ahead of the vast stores of sapphires, spinels, and a prized crimson dye called lac found in Burma.{8}

The ruby mines were located in the mountains called Capelan, a twelve days' journey from Pegu. Described in 1881 by Sourindro Mohun Tagore, in his book Mani-Mala, these most precious rubies and sapphires were "found in the mines of sulphur and mercury," in a land rent with storms, belching with sulfurous gases, and as dry and inhospitable as the Sahara.{9}

Though the King of Pegu, adorned in all his splendor, has long been dead and buried, the rubies which made him so famous as the King of Gems live on today, carrying the same allure now as they did then.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. Johnston, Sir Harry. The Great Pioneers of India, Ceylon, Bhutan and Tibet. Delhi, India: K. M. Mittal, 1986, p. 166.
  2. The Modern Part of an Univerfal Hiftory, from the Earlieft Account of Time, London: S. Richardson, et. al, 1759, p. 38.
  3. Ibid., p. 43.
  4. Johnston, p. 163.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., p. 100.
  8. Ibid., p. 100.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Tagore, Sourindro Mohun. Mani-Mala; or, A treatise on gems, Volume 2. Calcutta: I. C. Bose & Co., Stanhope Press, 1881, p. 862.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is Red Your Color?

Choosing a colored stone for your engagement ring is a decision you'll want to make carefully. One of the reasons diamonds have become such an enduring choice is because they literally go with everything. They match every outfit and complement every mood. Still, for some, color is everything. And a colored gemstone might be the perfect choice for you. In order to help you decide which colored gemstone will suit you best, we've started this series: What's Your Color?

Is Red Your Color?

Do you love red roses, fireside chats, and lobster tail? 

Do you prefer tropical heat and autumn leaves? 

Do you find yourself drawn to cherries, strawberries, and raspberries?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, red might be your color.

What We Know About Red

  • Red is the color of BLOOD, LIFE, and LIFE ENERGY.
  • Roman brides wore veils of fiery red to symbolize love and fertility.{1}
  • The color red has long been associated with protection against death, sickness, and evil spirits.
  • One psychological study demonstrated that people wearing red were rated as more attractive than those wearing other colors.{2}
  • Red is associated with power and dominance.
  • Red is the color of pleasure, sensuality, passion, and arousal.
  • Women tend to prefer the cooler reds, while men prefer the warmer reds.{3}

Red Personality Traits

  • Passion
  • Courage
  • Charisma
  • Vigor
  • Vitality
  • Boldness
  • Independence
If you found yourself identifying with any of the above traits, or if you're often choosing red accessories for your wardrobe, red paint for your walls, or red accents for your living spaces, then you might enjoy wearing a red gemstone in your engagement ring.

Which Stone Should I Choose?

Of course, you can't go wrong with a ruby. Rubies tend to run in the cooler tones, from pale pink to rich violet red. If you prefer the warmer tones, then you'll want to look carefully for a pigeon's blood ruby, and make sure you look at it under many light conditions and from many angles, as the appearance of color in a ruby tends to change from different directions.

If you prefer a stone other than the ruby, then may we suggest a red garnet, tourmaline, or a padparadscha sapphire? All of these stones weather daily wear well. 

If you think red might be your color, then we invite you to visit our showroom for a chance to put your color to the test. We would love to show you our selection of red rubies, garnets, tourmalines, and sapphires. 

Click here to schedule a visit today.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. Douma, M., curator. (2008). Pigments through the Ages. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from WebExhibits.
  2. Robson, David. "How the Colour Red Warps the Mind," BBC Future. Accessed July 22, 2015, from BBC Future.
  3. Williams, Shirley. "The Many Meanings of Red," Color Wheel Artist. Accessed July 22, 2015.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Swedish Bridal Accessories

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden wears The Cameo Tiara
as her bridal crown during her wedding to Prince Daniel Westling
in June 2010. Photo ©2010 Bengt Nyman

Swedish wedding attire is fairly conventional. The bride typically wears a white gown, and the groom a tux or suit. Swedes tend to keep things simple, inviting one attendant each. The maid of honor and best man will coordinate with the bride and groom as to what they will wear. Weddings in Sweden are a formal affair, and as long as a guest shies away from the color red,{1} Sunday best or better will do.

There is a bit of Swedish flair, however, and this has opportunity to present itself in a handful of wedding attire traditions, all of which center around the bride. The most important of these traditional bridal accessories is the Bridal Crown.

Traditionally, this was a headdress fashioned from myrtle leaves, a symbol of purity and innocence. Over time, this organic coronet has been replaced by jeweled tiaras or headpieces, which are sometimes elaborate. In 2010, Crown Princess Victoria wore The Cameo Crown during her wedding ceremony. The crown features seven cameos decorated with pearls.{2} And just this past month, Princess Sofia married Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, wearing a brand new bridal crown. The tiara was a gift from her parents and featured a series of palmette motifs crowned with pear-shaped emeralds.{3}

The next tradition in Swedish wedding attire dates back at least to the Middle Ages. In those dark days, it was customary for a Swedish bride to carry a large bouquet of foul-smelling weeds as she walked down the aisle. The noxious fumes were reputed to ward off any unwanted guests, namely trolls.{4} Since trolls have been largely vanquished, the custom of carrying stinky blooms down the aisle has long been out of fashion. However, a Swedish bride might be inclined to carry a bouquet rich in fragrance as a nod to this antiquated custom.

Another requirement for a Swedish bride is that she wear her engagement band during the ceremony. In Sweden, the solid band is given at the time of engagement. Her fiance will have been wearing his from the engagement onward, as well. During the ceremony, the bride will receive from her groom a diamond ring as a token of their wedding vows.

One more ring will be presented to the bride. Some say it is given on the wedding day as a symbol of future motherhood. Others report that the motherhood ring is given to a woman, by her husband, after the birth of their first child.

Finally, there is one more Swedish bridal accessory which the bride actually carries in her shoes. A silver coin rests beneath the heel of her left foot, and a gold coin rests beneath the heel of her right foot. These are gifts from her parents, the silver token from her mama and the gold one from her papa. These coins symbolize the promise of plenty, a prayer that their married daughter will never go without.

Which of these Swedish bridal accessories most appeals to you? Will you try to weave it into your upcoming wedding?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. World Wedding Traditions, "Swedish Wedding Traditions," December 2, 2013.
  2. The Jewelry Insider. "A Tiara Fit For a Queen.", June 21, 2010.
  3. "Tiara Thursday: Princess Sofia's Emerald and Diamond Tiara," Order of Splendor blog, June 13, 2015.
  4. The Knot. "Wedding Customs and Traditions From Around the Globe," accessed June 15, 2015.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Red Spinel: The Balas Ruby

Red spinel in calcite matrix. Photo ©Gery Parent on Flickr. This specimenwas photographed in the Mogok Valley in Burma. Most spinel is found in
the same mining regions where rubies are found.

Red Spinel, long called Balas Ruby, is a unique and beautiful gemstone found in the same areas where rubies and sapphires (corundum) are mined.{1} One could argue that corundum and spinel are kissing cousins, their only differentiation being the magnesium found in spinel that is absent from the aluminum oxide compound that comprises the sapphire family.

Historically, spinels were regarded as equal to the ruby. A blood red spinel called The Black Prince's Ruby takes pride of place in St. Edward's Crown, the coronation crown for Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth II of England possesses in her Royal Collection another spinel called The Timur Ruby, which has been engraved with the names and reigning dates of numerous Mughal emperors.{2}

In 2011 a remarkable spinel necklace was sold by Christie's for a staggering $5.2 million. Of tremendous historical significance, this necklace featured eleven polished spinels of varying sizes mounted on a gold link backchain.{3} Christie's estimates that the stones were mounted together at some point during the 19th century. Of course, the historical significance of this particular jewel led to its astonishing price. However, in materials alone, Christie's estimated the eleven beads to be worth as much as $2.5 million.{4}

With an unprecedented combined total weight of 1,131.59 carats, the initial estimate was over $2200 per carat.{5} And it sold for more than twice that price per carat. As brilliant as rubies, red spinel have long been prized for their beauty and hardness (8 on the Mohs Scale). The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICGA) commends spinel as a "durable gemstone that is perfect for all jewellery uses."{6} Despite such high regard by collectors and gemologists, spinel has been called by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), "History's most underappreciated gem."{7}

How is it that this beautiful stone, which commands at auction a price similar to rubies, which looks so much like a ruby, and which has a comparable brilliance and durability to the ruby, is so decidedly absent in the gemstone market?

The GIA credits the dismissal of spinel as a marketable gem to an inundation of synthetic spinels.{8} During the 1930s, synthetic spinel was mass produced in a wide variety of colors.{9} These mass produced lookalikes were mounted in fashion settings and promoted as birthstone jewelry.{10} They were known imitations, accepted by the growing middle class market, and popularly purchased and worn.

This flooding of the market, complete with trade names, may have led to what the GIA believes was a misconception about the natural origin of spinel.{11} Others cite the rarity and unreliability of spinel supply.{12} While rarity often commands higher prices, the ICGA relates that some gemstones, like spinel, slip through the cracks. "[B]eing too rare can be a drawback because so few people even get a chance to develop a fondness for the varieties in question," they report.{13}

Whatever the reason for its absence on the commercial market, I believe we're missing out. I hope to see more spinel available for sale in the coming days. It is a beautiful stone that rivals the ruby in beauty, typically sold at a fraction of the price.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews


  1. "Spinel," Geology. Accessed June 22, 2015.
  2. Christie's. "An Imperial Mughal Spinel Necklace." Sale 1382, Lot 306, sold May 18, 2011.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. "Spinel: collector's favourite," ICGA. Accessed June 22, 2015.
  7. "Spinel History and Lore," GIA Blog. Accessed June 22, 2015.
  8. Ibid.
  9. "Spinel," Geology. Accessed June 22, 2015.
  10. Ibid.
  11. "Spinel History and Lore," GIA BlogAccessed June 22, 2015.
  12. "Spinel," Geology. Accessed June 22, 2015.
  13. "Spinel: collector's favourite," ICGA. Accessed June 22, 2015.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Swedish Wedding Customs

Today in Sweden, a wedding is marked by a number of endearing traditions. Swedes are known for their reserved approach to life and their gender-neutral, egalitarian ways. While a wedding could be an optimal place to demonstrate gender neutrality, a Swedish wedding will debunk any myths that Swedes do not know how to let loose and have a good time.

In fact, a Brollop, as a wedding is called in Sweden, is filled with rich traditions of fun.{1} The gaiety (and gender neutrality) is first seen in the moments just before the bride and groom step over the threshold to walk down the aisle. Just as in every part of the world, Sweden boasts a wide variety of personalities. Thus, you might see a number of things take place in this pivotal moment.

You might see the couple work hard to time their steps perfectly, so that both of their feet touch the other side of the threshold simultaneously. You might see the groom step back and graciously allow his bride to step over first. Or you might see the bride give way to the groom.

Or you might see a scuffle, where bride and groom elbow and jostle each other in a race to see whose toes touch down on the carpet first. No matter what you see, it's imperative to understand that all the Swedes in the room will know from that first moment of touchdown just who is in charge of the family these two will go on to create.

If this matter is not firmly established before the couple reaches the altar, there is one last opportunity for the one who would be head of the household to assert their dominance. This moment comes near the end of what will otherwise be a minimalist approach to the modern European wedding ceremony. When the priest says, "Will you?' the bride and groom may hold a contest to see who can say "Ja" (the Swedish version of "I do") the loudest. The winner of said contest will take their proper place as head of household regardless of gender.

After the matter is settled, the ceremony will continue. Promises will be made, love will be declared, and a kiss will be enjoyed by all. Then, the couple will depart to greet their guests at the reception beneath a canopy of flowers.{1} Once again, the frivolity and fun of the otherwise reserved Swedish culture is allowed to leak into every aspect of the reception. While guests are seated at tables arranged in a horseshoe, the toastmaster will invite the bride and groom to take their place at the head table, located at the top of the U made by the tables.

At a particularly rousing wedding, as a guest you might find yourself seated next to a perfect stranger. Your only point of reference for conversation will be a piece of paper introducing you to your table mates. This piece of paper will include points of interest and intrigue about each person, as noted by the bride and groom. This is your opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of new people, and perhaps walk away with brand new friends.

As the banquet begins, the toastmaster will invite those who wish (anyone who wishes) to make a speech. It is his job to ensure that the events move smoothly, even with an unexpected (and usually large) number of speech makers waiting their turn. It is also his job to corral those tipsy, long-winded revelers and keep things moving as the night (and drinking) progresses.

It is also his job to initiate the wedding games. In America, we're used to playing party games at the bridal shower, and we're used to the various pranks and stunts pulled at the bachelor party. But these are enjoyed only by a select few. The closest thing to a game at an American wedding might be the cake-smashing moment, or the bouquet and garter toss. Swedish brides and grooms play no such games at their weddings.{2}

In Sweden, the egalitarian country that it is, they believe the games and pranks ought to be enjoyed by all. So, the toastmaster will invite the bride to join him at the front of the room. He will proceed to blindfold her and lead her to a chair. Then, he will parade a group of four men before her. Each man will lift his trouser leg and allow her to run her hands up his shin and calf. It is her task to identify her new husband by the simple act of feeling his leg.

If you were a Swedish bride, would you practice beforehand? I know I would. I might even talk my fiance into hiding some kind of sign for me to find with my fingers. I would hate to get this wrong on my wedding day. But that's just me.

Once the bride has discovered her tactile skills, the toastmaster will invite the groom to remain up front. The toastmaster will present to him his bride and three other lovely young women from the crowd. "Can you tell your bride by the feel of her lips against yours?" he might ask the groom.

"Of course I can!" the groom may boast, as he submits to the blindfold.

The toastmaster will explain to the guests that each of these young women, including his bride, will lean forward and kiss him gently on the lips without touching him with any other part of her body. It will be up to him to decipher which of these four pairs of lips belongs to his new wife.

What he may (or may not) know is that traditionally the toastmaster will call for a substitution after the blindfold is in place. With all the stealth they can muster, three clean-shaven gentlemen will step in for the counterfeit brides. And he must allow all four to kiss him and make his guess before removing the blindfold.

Can you see how fun this Swedish wedding would be?

The next game is truly played by all and can go on throughout the whole evening. It, too, is a kissing game. Only this time the rule is that if the bride takes leave of the room, all the women in the room are free to mob the groom and kiss his cheeks. And if the groom leaves the room, all the men are free to sneak a kiss (again, on the cheek) from the bride.{3}

There remains one final game, and here is where the toastmaster must remain on his guard, and therefore must refrain from playing along. This game is traditionally called Snapsvisor.{4} To play along all you need is a list of song lyrics, which should be provided at your table, and a good stash of vodka.{5}

Take a drink, then sing a song. Take another drink, and sing another song. Encourage your table mates to join you. Get up and carry the vodka and song lyrics around with you and encourage others to sing along. As the night rolls on, you can imagine how fun this tradition can become. And how much the toastmaster must step lively and stay on his toes.

So, now you're prepared to fully enjoy the next Swedish wedding you attend. Perhaps it will be your own!?!

If you happen to be on your way to Sweden as a guest to a wedding, there is one more tradition you will want to take note of before you choose your outfit. Whether you're a man or a woman, I advise you to leave your red shirt, your red necktie, or your red dress hanging in your closet at home. In Sweden, when a guest wears red to the party, it means you've had a (no longer) illicit affair with the groom.{6}

If the bride chooses to wear red, well then that is all the more fun. But don't let it be you choosing the color of scarlet!

~Angela Magnotti Andrews


  1. Ingebretsen's. "Swedish Wedding Traditions." Accessed June 15, 2015.
  2. Meg, "Swedish Wedding: "Svenst Brollop," Something Swedish Blog, August 1, 2012.
  3. World Wedding Traditions. "Swedish Wedding Traditions," posted December 2, 2013.
  4. Ingebretsen's. "Swedish Wedding Traditions." Accessed June 15, 2015.
  5. "Swedish Wedding Traditions: Customs and Culture," Your Living City, May 6, 2011.
  6. Meg, "Swedish Wedding: "Svenst Brollop," Something Swedish Blog, August 1, 2012.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Blood-Red Ruby in History

The blood-red ruby has captivated the eyes of man since ancient times. Like the flames of fire after which it was named long ago, it draws the gaze and holds it captive to its brilliance.

Before gemological labs, before dichroscopes and microscopes, before democracy, before we knew as much as we think we know now, all blood red stones were considered Kings of the Gems. Their name was different from today's name. Not the ruby we know in modern times, whose name is based upon a more modern science and history: Rubinus, a Latin word which means, rather blandly, 'red'.

No! Then, it was called Carbunculus, (now an archaic term) which teemed with the dynamic force of smoldering coals. The word is also Latin, but it is a far less clinical term of categorization. Rather, it is a visceral term of description.

In keeping with this more visceral form of identification, the Carbunculus of old was not always equal to the rubinus of our day. The tools in the gemologist's handbag were limited to the naked eye and the powers of observation. Be careful not to equate this with less scientific, however. For these rigorous gemsmen asked all the right questions:

How does the stone behave when held up to the sun?

What happens if we strike this other stone of known hardness with this new alluring red stone?

Can we engrave it with the images of our favored gods and kings?

Can we cut it into the shapes our women fancy?

Can we draw the eye of the king with it?

These and more were the questions posed by the scientists of old when holding the flaming red Carbunculus in their hands. And the answers to many of their questions were promising. But not all. All of them caught the eyes of kings. All of them shone with the brilliance of the sun. But some of the Carbunculus did not take to engraving. Some of them did not attract stray bits to themselves. Some did not weather the effects of fire intact.

We know now that this is because those fiery gems, lauded by Marco Polo, Pliny the Elder, and Theophrastus, were not all the same. A ruby by any other name may look the same, but today we know that only corundum, that pure crystallized alumina, has a hardness nearing the diamond. Only the corundum now commands the price of kings. Only corundum withstands the flames of fire after which it is named.

However, in ancient times, without the power to differentiate, garnets and spinels were often considered color variations of the corundum rubies. It is garnets that were wildly popular for the art of the intaglio, and many spinels of fine quality are mounted in the crown jewels of Europe's royalty. Those gemsmen of old were limited in their differentiation.

However, as the tools of the gemologist increased, so did the distinction between the Carbunculi, so that now we no longer confuse the three together. Indeed, they are not of the same species. Where ruby is comprised of alumina, spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide. And garnet is a vast mineral group which has silicate at its base.

Ruby is the hardest next to diamond, and it withstands the flames of fire. It is the birthstone of July. Garnet is the most varied, able to be cut in every size and shape. It is the birthstone of January. Spinel is the rarest, found in many of the same areas as ruby, but fairly unappreciated. It is not a birthstone, though it takes pride of place on the ceremonial crown of England.

All are beautiful. All come in shades of brilliant blood red. All are gemstone grade. All are worthy of our attention.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews