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birthstones...

you can never have too many.

This is a summary of the birthstones that are associated with Usagi's birthday. (Information from the International Colored Gemstone Association website.)

Overview

The custom of wearing birthstones probably first became popular in Poland in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. For more information about the history of birthstones, try The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by George Frederick Kunz, a fascinating compendium of all the powers that have been associated with gemstones through the ages. For example, birthstones originally may have been worn each month by everyone, since the powers of the gemstone were heightened during its month. If that is true, to get the full effect, you need to go out and get a full set of twelve and rotate them each year!

ICA website

Birthstones for June 30

Modern birthstone: moonstone, alexandrite
Zodiac gemstone: emerald
Ancient Hebrew: emerald
Ancient Roman: emerald
Ancient Arabic: agate
Ancient Hindu: pearl
Ancient Polish: agate
Ancient Russian: agate

Depending on the site, I have consistantly seen the June birthstone as pearl, alexandrite and moonstone, completely interchangably. That's every excuse you June babies need to buy more earrings. XD

Moonstone

Moonstone shows an almost magical play of light as its characteristic feature. It owes its name to this mysterious gleaming which appears different whenever the stone changes its position in movement. Experts call this the “adularescence", and in earlier times the phases of waxing and waning moon were though to be discerned in this phenomenon.

Moonstone from Sri Lanka, the classical country of origin for Moonstone, shimmers pale blue on almost transparent ground. Specimen from India shoe cloudlike plays of light and shade on beige brown, green, orange or simple brown background. These subdued colours in combination with the fine shine make Moonstone an ideal gemstone for jewellery with a sensuous and feminine character. This gemstone was once before extremely popular, about a hundred years ago in the times of Art Nouveau. It used to decorate a striking amount of pieces of jewellery created by the famous French Master Goldsmith René Lalique and by his contemporaries. These pieces are usually only found in a museum or in collections nowadays.

Many mystical and magical connotations surround this stone. In several cultures, like for example in India, it is considered a sacred and magical gemstone. In India Moonstone is also appreciated as a “dream stone", as it is supposed to bring about sweet and beautiful dreams. In Arab countries women often were Moonstone sewn into their garment, because there this gemstone is appreciated as a symbol of fertility.

Moonstone symbolises a holistic view of man and woman. Its soft shine will support the emotional and dreamy tendencies of a person. The associations thus involved make Moonstone of course the ideal stone for lovers, reputed to bring forth feelings of tenderness and to protect true love. It is also reported that wearing a Moonstone will further intuition and your sensitivity for others.

ICA website

Alexandrite

This rare gemstone is named after the Russian tsar Alexander II (1818-1881), the very first crystals having been discovered in April 1834 in the emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in the Urals. The discovery was made on the day the future tsar came of age. Although alexandrite is a relatively young gemstone, it certainly has a noble history. Since it shows both red and green, the principal colours of old Imperial Russia, it inevitably became the national stone of tsarist Russia.

Beautiful alexandrite in top quality, however, is very rare indeed and hardly ever used in modern jewellery. In antique Russian jewellery you may come across it with a little luck, since Russian master jewellers loved this stone. Tiffany's master gemmologist George Frederick Kunz (1856-1932) was also fascinated by alexandrite, and the jeweller's firm produced some beautiful series of rings and platinum ensembles at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Smaller alexandrites were occasionally also used in Victorian jewellery from England.

ICA website

Emerald

Emeralds are fascinating gemstones. They show the most beautiful, deepest and most brilliant green imaginable: Emerald green. Inclusions are allowed, and nevertheless, in top qualities fine Emerald are even more valuable than diamonds.

The name Emerald was derived from French "esmeraude" which in turn goes back via Latin to the Greek root "smaragdos", meaning simply "green gemstone". There are uncountable adventure stories involving this splendid gemstone. Even the ancient Incas and Aztecs in South America, where the best Emeralds are still being found today, worshipped it as a holy stone. However, probably the most ancient occurrences which were known are located near the Red Sea. These gemstone mines were already exploited by Egyptian Pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C., gained fame under he name of "Cleopatra's Mines", but had already run out when they were rediscovered.

Many centuries ago in the Veda, the ancient sacred writings of Hinduism, there was written down information on the valuable green gemstones and their healing power: "Emeralds promise good luck", or "The Emerald enhances your well-being". It does not come as a surprise, then, that the treasure chests of Indian Maharajas and Maharanis contained most wonderful Emeralds. One of the largest Emeralds in the world is the "Mogul Emerald". It goes back to the year 1695, weighs 217.80 carats and is about 10 cm high. One side is inscribed with prayers, on the other side there are engraved opulent flower ornaments. The legendary Emerald was auctioned off at Christie's of London for 2.2 million US dollars to an anonymous buyer.

Emeralds have been coveted ever since ancient times. Some of the most famous Emeralds can therefore be admired in museums and collections. For example, The New York Museum of Natural History not only shows a cup from pure Emerald which was owned by Emperor Jehingar, but also a Colombian Emerald crystal weighing 632 carats. The collection owned by the Bank of Bogota contains no less than five valuable Emerald crystals weighing between 220 and 1796 carats. Also in the Irani State Treasure there are guarded some wonderful Emeralds, among them the tiara of ex-Empress Farah.

ICA website

Agate

No gemstone is more creatively striped by nature than agate, chalecedony quartz that forms in concentric layers in a wide variety of colors and textures. Each individual agate forms by filling a cavity in host rock. As a result, agate often is found as a round nodule, with concentric bands like the rings of a tree trunk. The bands sometimes look like eyes, sometimes fanciful scallops, or even a landscape with dendrite trees.

Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in ancient times. It was said to quench thirst and protect from fevers. Persian magicians used agate to divert storms. A famous collection of two to four thousand agate bowls which was accumulated by Mithradates, king of Pontus, shows the enthusiasm with which agate was regarded. Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples.

The mining of agate in the Nahe River valley in Germany which was already documented in 1497 gave rise to the cutting center of Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Originally, the river was used to power the grinding wheels. When the Nahe agate deposit was exhausted in the nineteenth century, Idar cutters started to develop the agate deposits of Brazil, which also sparked exploration and discovery of Brazil's rich deposits of amethyst, citrine, tourmaline, topaz, and other gemstones.

Although the small town of Idar-Oberstein is still known for the finest agate carving in the world, today Idar imports a huge range of other gem materials from around the world for cutting and carving in Germany and Asia. Cameo master carvers and modern lapidary artists flourish along with rough dealers who scour the world for the latest gem discoveries for export. And the entire industry sprung from the taste for agate bowls and ornaments during the Renaissance! Maybe agate is also a powerful talisman for success in international trade!

ICA website

Pearl

Pearls are an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. Long ago, pearls were important financial assets, comparable in price to real estate, as thousands of oysters had to be searched for only one pearl. They were rare because they were created only by chance.

Today pearls are cultured by man: shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian black cultured pearls, which are larger in size. Freshwater pearls are cultured in freshwater mussels, mostly in China.

The quality of pearls is judged by the orient, which is the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre, and luster, the reflectivity and shine of the surface. Fine pearls do not have any flaws or spots in the nacre: it has an even smooth texture. Other factors which affect value are the regularity of the shape, size, and color: rose tints are the most favored.

Cultured pearls and natural pearls can be distinguished from imitation pearls by a very simple test. Take the pearl and rub it (gently!) against the edge of a tooth. Cultured and natural pearls will feel slightly rough, like fine sandpaper, because of the texture of natural nacre. Imitations will feel as smooth as glass because the surface is molded or painted on a smooth bead.

ICA website

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