All posts by Carl Morris

Gemstones: rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and other quality gemstones

Gemstones: rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds and other quality gemstones

From the earliest times, diamonds and other gemstones – both precious stones and semi-precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, sapphires and pearls – have adorned the richest and most noble people in the land. Kings, Queens, Emperors – even dictators – have all been amongst the privileged few able to afford to wear gemstones, precious and semi-precious stones on their clothing, on their heads and hands and in ceremonial decorations like crowns and coronets.

Although fashions change, there is still a desire for those rich enough to show off their wealth by wearing rare and expensive objects such as gemstones – gemstone rings, gemstone bracelets and other gemstone jewelry.

Over the years, a wide range of materials have been classified as gemstones and we provide a list of gemstones.

However, these days, whilst a diamond – along with a ruby,  emerald, a sapphire and even a diamond – is still one of the most expensive gemstones around, you don’t need to be wildly rich or regal to afford one. Nevertheless you do need to be able to assess the quality of the gemstones you want to buy – whether it is a diamond, a ruby, sapphire or emerald. 

sapphire-deep-blue-tRubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds are considered to be the main gemstones. These four precious stones are considered the most important of all the gemstones. Other colored stones(precious stones and semi-precious stones) tend to be prized for their color and their association with certain months of the year (eg as birthstones, birthday gemstones) and their  perceived characteristics.

In recent years, colored gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, emeralds – and even colored diamonds – have been attracting much attention. That extra touch of dramatic color to a piece of jewelry is now seen as highly desirable.

Chalk emeraldOf course, diamonds are still considered to be “a girl’s best friend” and the demand for large, good quality diamonds with that touch of “oomph” is increasing. Jewelers around the country have been receiving requests for super-sized diamonds – largely as a result of the huge rocks worn by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston.

millenium_starIn this environment, it is important to be able to assess the quality of a stone and its setting. Ultimately, it is the quality of the stone together with the setting and the metal that determines the value of any piece of jewelry.

Of course, that may be secondary to the fact that you like a particular piece of jewelry. There can be no substitute for a ring, necklace, pendant, or some other piece of jewelry that has romantic or other associations. Whether it is a family heirloom handed down from a close relative, a gift from a loved one or simply the first piece of jewelry you bought for yourself. Even if you can’t put a value on these memories and associations, you can still put a value on the piece itself. This can only enhance the memory and its value to you.

Here on the pages of this website you will find an alphabetical list of the most important gemstones and precious stones, together with background information on each gemstone – name, colors, mineral origins and any meanings or associations that are connected with each stone. We also provide a list of birth stones – the stones associated with each birthday – and with each Zodiac sign. All of this is brought together on our Birthstones Chart.




Antique and Vintage Rings: Art Deco Rings and Jewelry: Origins, Styles and Influences

Whilst other Antique and Vintage periods of jewellery can be defined specifically to dates during which a monarch reigned – eg. Victorian and Edwardian – the commencement of the Art Deco period is less able to be specified, since the movement was influenced by a wide range of designers, architects and other creative people.


Continue reading Antique and Vintage Rings: Art Deco Rings and Jewelry: Origins, Styles and Influences

Wow your girlfriend with a ring on a budget

If money is no object, then choosing any kind of ring – and especially an  engagement ring – is usually no problem.

Most of us, however, have to work to a budget.  This doesn’t mean just opting for a cheap ring; it means that you should choose carefully.  If you’re set on buying a diamond then our article “How to choose a diamond ring” will give you some helpful tips on how to select a great ring.

If you’re wanting to surprise your girlfriend with a great ring, but are a bit short of cash, then there are ways of making your budget go as far as possible. There are ways that will allow you to ‘wow your girlfriend with a ring on a budget”.

– a number of stones costs less than a single stone with the same overall weight;

– a cluster of small stones looks bigger than a single stone;

– the setting can enhance the overall presentation;

– the shape of the stone is important in creating the right impression;

– the cost of the metal in the band can add significantly to the cost;

– it doesn’t have to be a diamond…. 

For  more information on these … 

Choosing a ring where the diamond (or gemstone) looks larger than it is

Alternatives to buying a diamond ………… more



How to Choose an Affordable Engagement Ring

A guide on how to choose affordable engagement rings for women.

Diamond engagement ringChoosing an engagement ring can feel like a daunting task – especially if you want to surprise your girlfriend with a ring that’s so special, she’ll just have to say “Yes!” 

However, it is not necessarily so. Choosing an engagement ring – even without your girlfriend knowing what you’re planning – can be a relatively straightforward process as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.

These rules apply no matter whether you’re working to a budget and looking for an affordable engagement ring, or where money is no problem, whether the ring is a diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire, aquamarine, amethyst, topaz, or any other gemstone from which you may choose. So just follow these guidelines for choosing an affordable engagement ring and you will be fine!

Most guys hate shopping for anything, let alone something as important as an engagement ring. With so many things to think about: the style, the stone, the metal , the quality, the price ……it can be enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. However, since you’ve already decided that you want to marry your girl, let’s look at the ways to make the ring buying process as painless – and ideally, as enjoyable as possible for you.

Buying a ring online from an online jewelry store can be an excellent way to find that special ring. It gives you the ability to browse a wide range of jewelry options – and do it in the comfort of your own home, without feeling under pressure to buy, until you’ve found the perfect ring…. the one that feels right for you.

Another benefit of shopping for jewelry online is that many websites sell rings at much lower prices than shopping mall and other retail jewellers; their overheads are much lower and therefore some of these savings can be passed over to you.

However, before you settle down to check out some jewelry websites, let’s look at some of the things you’ll need to know beforehand:

1. What type of ring will you’re girlfriend like?

If you’re going to surprise your loved one with a ring that you have chosen, you had better do your homework to discover the type of ring that she would choose for herself.

You need to observe and check out the following:

What style of jewelry does she tend to wear? (eg. does she favor gold or silver metal jewelry? Does she like modern designs or antique styles or maybe jewelry that’s a little unusual? Does she wear any jewelry with gemstones and if so, what color are they? Are the rings she currently wears simple slim bands or chunky in design? Has she ever made any comments about a friend’s engagement ring that can give you a clue as to what she really likes?

Checking this info out with your girl’s mother or best friend can be a good plan of action – as long as they can be trusted to keep your secret.

2. Your girlfriend’s ring size

Again, your girl’s mother or best friend may be able to help out here. However, if this is not an option – or they don’t know, then read our other article “How to find out your girlfriend’s ring size” for some helpful tips on the different ways you can discover this.

3. How much to pay for a ring?

Recommendations on this point vary tremendously, with figures ranging from allocating anything from 3 week’s to 3 month’s salary on buying an engagement ring. Three month’s salary may be fine for those flush with cash, but for many guys, finding that special ring without bankrupting yourself in the process is an important fact to take into consideration. If your budget is a little limited, there are some ring styles you can buy that look impressive, but are less expensive than some others. (Our article: “How to wow your girlfriend with a ring, without going bankrupt” will give you ideas on how to make the most of your budget.

However, when money is no object, then choosing an engagement ring is usually less of a problem – once you’ve figured out the type of ring your loved one will like.

Most of us, however, have to work to a budget. This doesn’t mean scanning the web for cheap (and possibly substandard) rings. It means that you should choose carefully. If you’re set on buying a diamond then our article “How to choose a diamond ring” will also give you some helpful tips on how to select a great ring.

Ruby Gemstone Rings – Choosing Your Ruby Ring

How to choose your ruby ring; how do you assess the quality of a ruby ring?

Vintage 1990 1.60 ct Ruby and Diamond Engagement RingRubies are very much in vogue nowadays; demand for rubies-along with diamonds –  is one of the top trends in rings and there has been increasing demand for ruby rings for the past few years. This is understandable. Rubies are one of the 4 major gemstones and a premium ruby ring can often put some of the larger diamonds to shame. 

The question is how do you detect the quality of a ruby ring; how do you assess the quality of the stone and the setting? How do you choose the one ruby ring that is right for you? 

First of all the stone itself. Continue reading Ruby Gemstone Rings – Choosing Your Ruby Ring

Birthstones by month: which data to believe

blue sapphire ring set in white goldWith so many lists of gemstones by month and so many birthstone lists – many of them with contradictory information – it’s not surprising that many of us get confused as to which ones are correct.  Well, quite simply – they are all correct in one way or another.  

The history of birthstones goes back many years to various points in history – and to different cultures. In ancient times, gemstones were ascribed specific qualities that related to beliefs about health, healing, astronomy and astrology.  Some of these cultures include: Hindu, Hebrew, Roman, Arabic, Polish and European pagan civilisations – all with different beliefs about the qualities and meanings of the different gemstones that they were familiar with.  As a result, we now have an abundance of information about many of the gemstones currently used for jewelry today – much of which is paradoxical .

In the early part of the last century, an attempt to produce an official list of birthstones by month was made by the American Gem Trade Association – in 1912 to be precise. This list has now become known as the “Modern” gemstone list to differentiate it from all the previous ones. 

However, the rationale that the American Gem Trade Association used for designating a gemstone for each month is unclear – and if anything has only served to confuse people even further.  The more cynical gemstone experts consider that the “Modern” list was constructed purely in order to promote certain gemstones on a commercial basis and bears no relationship to any of the underlying belief systems, customs or traditions of the different ancient cultures. Continue reading Birthstones by month: which data to believe

Edwardian Rings – The Edwardian Age 1901-1920

Edwardian ringsAlthough the reign of King Edward Vll ended upon his death in 1910, this was not the end of the Edwardian period for jewelry – or for other style products. In design terms, the Edwardian period continued right through to 1920, when the Art Deco Style began.

In the Edwardian period, advances in technology allowed Platinum to be used in jewelry for the first time.  The introduction of the oxyacetylene torch, which was capable of producing the high temperatures needed to work with this new metal, opened up new opportunities for jewellers.  After the Victorian years, when yellow gold was the prime metal, the whiteness and lustre of platinum soon found favour and this new metal became a popular metal of choice – particularly since it enhanced the color and sparkle of diamonds that were also increasing in popularity.

The strength of platinum meant that less metal needed to be used in the setting. This enabled a more elegant style of ring to be produced.  Jewellers took the flowery styles of the Victorian era and re-defined them so that the diamonds and other gemstones, such as sapphires, took centre stage with settings becoming less visible. Continue reading Edwardian Rings – The Edwardian Age 1901-1920

Sapphire Gemstone Rings – symbolising love, longing, loyalty

The Sapphire gemstone symbolises love, longing and loyalty.

Overstock - princess Diana ring - white gold, sapphire, diamondAlthough we can describe the Sapphire as an example of the mineral corundum, it is more sensible to describe the sapphire in terms of the feelings it generates: love, longing and loyalty. 

In practical terms, Sapphire is the mineral corundum – as is the ruby. This mineral is the second hardest gemstone after the diamond: red corundum is known as ruby, while all other colors are referred to as Sapphire. 

Blue is the most famous of the sapphire colors and the prized Kashmir and Burmese sapphires have a deep blue that is intense and velvety.

However, these sapphires are not often seen on the market today. Sri Lankan and Madagascar sapphires are the most common today, with a wide range of colors from light sky blue to dark blue. Other producers of blue sapphire are Australia, Tanzania, Thailand, Cambodia, and the USA (Montana). Continue reading Sapphire Gemstone Rings – symbolising love, longing, loyalty

Antique and Vintage Rings – Victorian Rings: 1837-1900

victorianA review of Antique and Vintage Rings. The Victorian period: 1837-1900

The Victorian age, from the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, has become one of the most popular eras for those wanting an antique or vintage ring. The range of engagement rings, weddings rings, anniversary rings and other, special occasion rings available from this period demonstrates the jeweler’s art of combining beautiful gemstones with romantic settings. Never has Victorian jewelry – and Victorian Rings – been more popular.

Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 through to 1901, brought about a long period of prosperity in Britain. A combination of a high level of trade across the whole British Empire together with and the Industrial Revolution led to a rising affluent middle class. These were people who were eager to spend their new -found wealth – and some of it on expensive jewelry. Continue reading Antique and Vintage Rings – Victorian Rings: 1837-1900

Popular Ring Settings

There are several ways of setting a gemstone into a ring; the main purpose of a ring setting is to hold the gemstone securely. However, the setting is also designed  to allow the light to show off the stone to maximum effect: the light will reflect off the stone and refraction will allow light to pass through the stone. 

Which is then right setting?  There is really no right or wrong to this question. The setting is very much a case of personal preference.

Here is a selection of the most popular ring settings:

Prong setting:


Bar setting:


Bezel setting:


Tension setting:



Flush setting:


Channel setting:



Pave setting:


Cluster setting:


Ballerina Setting:


For more information see Choosing Your Ring: Popular Ring Settings 


How to find out your girlfriend’s ring size

One of the problems facing any man choosing an engagement ring, a promise ring – or indeed any ring designed to show his love and commitment – is discovering what size to buy. It’s OK knowing that the average ring size is 6 but is this good enough? Of course not. In a situation like this it is important to make sure that the ring is the right size!

Rings with Love - Gemstones - Garnet - Double Heart Garnet Ring Rings with Love - Gemstones - Amethyst - Infinity Twist Band - 14k Rose Gold with Amethyst White Gold Diamond Promise Rings - 14k White Gold Diamond Promise Ring

Finding out your girlfriend’s ring size, if you’re trying to keep your proposal a surprise, requires a certain amount of ingenuity – and sometimes the help of her mother or a friend. Here are some ideas:

  • If she already wears a ring on one of her ring fingers and takes it off at night, then this may give you (or her mother or friend) the opportunity to quickly figure out the size. This you can do either by:
    • pressing it into a small bar of soft soap to leave an imprint
    • tracing a line round the inside of the ring onto a piece of paper, or
    • pushing the ring down onto one of your fingers, as far as it will go and making a small pen mark at the point where it stops – then measure round your finger to determine her ring size. (Note: If you’re using the soap trick then do remember to wipe any traces of soap off the ring before you put it back)
  • Check out her jewelry box for a ring you can borrow or take a tracing, as described above.
    Where possible take one that you know she wears on her ring finger, in case you take one that she wears on a different size finger – or is one that doesn’t fit her any more.
  • Take a piece of string when she’s asleep and gently wind it once round her finger. Make sure that the string is not wound round too tight and that it can be moved gently over her knuckle. Take hold of it at the point where it meets the end of the string and then gently remove the string from her finger, whilst keeping hold of the meeting point. Make a pen mark or cut the string length at this point. Measure the short piece of string to figure out her ring size. This trick can be difficult to achieve if she’s a light sleeper. Plus the sizing may not always be totally accurate. However, it can provide a guideline.
  • This next trick is a good way of checking whether your string measurement was correct. Buy an inexpensive but pretty costume jewelry ring in the size of your measurement. If however, you haven’t been able to do the string trick, then aim to buy a costume ring that is a size 6 – since this is the average ring size for a girl (or, if you suspect that her fingers are larger than the average girl, get a larger size) Next, pretend that you’ve either a) found it lying in the street b) won it in a competition, or c)say that your friend bought it as a present for his girlfriend but it doesn’t fit her. Offer the ring to your girlfriend. Hopefully, she’ll like it enough to try it on and you can see how well it fits her finger. This trick can also be a good way to check out her taste in jewelry – for example: try and get a costume ring in a similar style to the one you are thinking of buying her as an engagement ring.
  • Get help from your girlfriend’s mother or a good friend, who can keep a secret. Ask them to include a window shopping trip to a jeweller and try on some rings, the next time they go shopping with your girl friend. This is a good way to discover not just the ring size but your girlfriend’s preference for ring styles as well.
  • If all else fails, you will either have to:
    • guess the size and have the ring re-sized if you get it wrong (so make sure when you buy the ring that it can be re-sized – bearing in mind that the average size is 6); or
    • let your girlfriend in on part of the secret by suggesting that she try on some rings whilst you are out shopping one day. Now she’ll probably guess what you’re planning but won’t know when or where. However, at least this way, you’ll know her exact ring size and have a better idea about her likes and dislikes. Plus, by her reaction to the jewelry trip, you’ll get a good idea as to whether she’s likely to accept your eventual marriage proposal.

The ring sizing chart below gives you the diameter of each ring size and the corresponding code letter for each size. Use this to help you determine your girlfriend’s ring size, once you have managed to obtain a tracing from one of her rings, or you have one of her rings to compare.

Good Luck !