Tag Archives: gems

Gems and Birthstones

Gemstones fascinate me on many levels and are integral parts of my current manuscript.
Gems and crystals speak to me as grounding influences, vibrating with their own energy. Albert Einstein once said that ‘…everything in life is vibration.’
They also sparkle like stars and thus fulfil my sense of connection with the universe.  

gems and birthstones - the last krystallos

I love pretty things and stones of any kind have been a passion since I was small. My interest began when dad got a gemstone tumbler and with birthstone pendants and rings in the Argos catalogue, but I was disappointed when October’s birthstone was always downgraded to rose instead of opal. I desperately wanted an opal of my own.

Recently, my research into crystals has been extensive because of their use in The Seren Stone Chronicles, of which the three first drafts are now finished. I have a beautiful collection of stones and decided, being January, that it’d be fun to post about birthstones.

Birthstones are thought to originate from biblical and ancient uses. Twelve stones used in Aaron’s breastplate are considered to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Later, these twelve gems were linked with zodiac signs. Other ancient civilisations believed these stones had powers connected to luck, health, and power. Modern day lists differ from traditional lists, and some cultures have their own lists.  My list is based on the British more romanticised version.

January – Garnet

Garnet is a deep-red stone of health that enhances energy, passion, and pleasure. It is said that the only light on Noah’s Ark was provided by a Garnet stone. Garnet is a good stone to help with depression, as it brings joy and hope to the wearer and helps lessen the anger directed at oneself. It also cleanses the chakras of negative energy, re-energizing them in the process.

January - Garnet

January – Garnet © Lisa Shambrook

February – Amethyst

A very popular purple quartz ranging from the lightest lilac to deep-purple, the presence of maganese and iron changes clear quartz to amethyst. It has a reputation as a healing stone. It is a crystal of spiritual growth and protection. Ancient Greeks believed it would ward off drunkenness and for centuries, myths and legends have had strong religious and cultural connections with Amethyst.

February - Amethyst

February – Amethyst © Lisa Shambrook

March – Aquamarine

Aquamarine simply means seawater and it’s hues of pale blue conjure up coastal seas. It has been said to embody eternal life and is connected with youth and hope. It was the treasure of mermaids and used by sailors for protection. Aquamarine is a stone associated with the throat chakra and is a stone of cleansing and communication.

March - Aquamarine

March – Aquamarine © Lisa Shambrook

April – Diamond

Diamonds have been long associated with love and desire, known for their strength and value. It was once believed that diamonds were made when lightning hit rock, now we know they are made from carbon. Once known as the Stone of Invincibility due to its hardness crystallising deep underground under intense pressure. Diamonds are spiritual stones and are a symbol of wealth.

I own Herkimer Diamonds, named for the Herkimer mines in the US. They are double-terminated crystals often with inclusions of air bubbles or black carbon. I find them just as beautiful as traditional diamonds.

Diamond - April - Herkimer Diamond stone

Diamond – April – Herkimer Diamond stone © Lisa Shambrook

May – Emerald

Rich green gems known as symbols of love and rebirth. They are said to have been Cleopatra’s favourite stone, symbolising youth, eternal life, and friendship. Emeralds are amongst the rarest of gems, often found with inclusions which can enhance their worth, making them unique. It is a stone of wisdom, enhancing memory and increasing mental clarity.

May - Emerald

May – Emerald © Lisa Shambrook

June – Pearl

Both Pearl and Alexandrite are birthstones of June. Pearl has been much sought after through the ages. Myths in Persia called pearls the tears of the gods. Pearls are the only gemstone created by living creatures.  A pearl is formed when an irritant gets inside an oyster, or a mussel or clam shell, and it exudes fluid called nacre which coats the irritant in many layers eventually creating a pearl. Pearls can be cultured or freshwater and come in a range of colours from white to black.

Alexandrite is very rare and worth more than both rubies and diamonds. It’s a rare colour changing variety of chrysoberyl, changing colour from blue to green, and in artificial light red to pink. When they were first discovered the miners thought they’d found emerald only to bring them out and find by the camp fire they looked like rubies. It symbolises wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. A stone of positivity and self-confidence.

June - Pearl - Oyster

June – Pearl – Oyster © Lisa Shambrook

July – Ruby

Ruby is the most valuable of all gemstones depending on its colour. The most valuable rubies are deep red with a hint of blue. Ruby has always been a symbol of passion, protection, and prosperity. It was known as an inextinguishable flame. Ruby is red Corundum, which is an aluminium oxide mineral with chromium which causes its rich colour. It’s also known as an aphrodisiac.

When Ruby in zoisite was discovered in Tanzania in the 1950’s they thought they’d discovered huge deposits of ruby, but this gemstone a combination of ruby and zoisite crystals produced a more opaque ruby that was much more affordable.

July - Ruby - Ruby in Zoisite

July – Ruby – Ruby in Zoisite © Lisa Shambrook

August – Peridot

Peridot is the gem-quality stone of Olivine. Olivine in dust form has been found on the moon, and in comet dust brought back to earth on the Stardust robotic space probe in 2006. Like diamonds they are born of pressure in molten rock of the upper mantle beneath earthquakes and volcanoes. It’s associated with the sun and used to force back darkness. It has been valued for years as a healing stone of the heart chakra. Peridot is said to bring magic and healing powers to its wearer. It is also the stone connected to the Archangel Raphael.

Peridot is the backbone for my new series of books The Seren Stone Chronicles.

August - Peridot - Peridot on Basalt

August – Peridot – Peridot on Basalt © Lisa Shambrook

September – Sapphire

This is a gem known for loyalty and trust. It is a stone of wisdom and royalty steeped in history and lore and religion. The Ten Commandments given to Moses were said to have been engraved on tablets of sapphire. It is used within many religions and cultures as a stone of spiritual enlightenment, worship, and devotion. Its colour moves from royal blue to indigo and are much prized as a talisman of honesty and purity.

The stone I have is Water Sapphire, also known as iolite, dichroite, or cordierite.

September - Sapphire - Water Sapphire, or iolite

September – Sapphire – Water Sapphire, or iolite © Lisa Shambrook

October – Opal

October is known for two birthstones, Opal and Tourmaline. Opals are known for containing the colours of the rainbow and come in the palest form, almost white,  and as triplet with deep blues, green, and pinks. They can be translucent or as glittery as fire. Pliny, the Roman historian, described opal as a precious stone containing the fiery flame of the carbuncle (Garnet), the resplendent purple of the Amethyst, and the sea-green glory of the Emerald – all shining together in incredible union and exquisite pleasure. It’s been linked to superstitions and bad luck but has remained a favourite gem. The Andean Opal (the stone in my pictures) is considered to be a gift from Pachamama, the earliest Inca Goddess of Fruitfulness and Mother Earth. Opals are known for reflection and are emotional stones.

Tourmaline is found in black variety and pinks, blues, and greens. It combines more colours than any other crystal group. Black Tourmaline is a protection stone, and is grounding. It is also electrical in nature and provides connection between the earth and the human spirit.

Also pictured are opal rings and bracelet which match my birthstone. I finally bought my own opal ring from Castleton in Derbyshire in my teens, and received another from my husband just a few years ago.

October - Opla - Andean Opal

October – Opla – Andean Opal © Lisa Shambrook

November – Topaz

Topaz and Citrine are November’s birthstones. Topaz comes in many colours from clear silver topaz, to yellow, brown, blue, green, red, and pink. Blue used to be the rarest colour but now its colour can be enhanced and it has become the most popular. Natural blue topaz is very rare. Blue topaz draws inspiration from the sky and promotes truth, expression, and confidence. It’s soothing and calm. Silver topaz is attributed to the crown chakra and enhances your feeling of self. A stone of good fortune and love.

Citrine a beautiful golden-yellow quartz known for vitality and is said to be a healing crystal. It contains the power of the sun and is a stone of new beginnings. It never needs cleansing and is a stone of positivity. It’s name comes from the French word for lemon, citron.

November - Topaz - Silver Topaz and Blue Topaz

November – Topaz – Silver Topaz and Blue Topaz © Lisa Shambrook

December – Turquoise

Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli used to be the traditional birthstones of December, but modern calendars now include Tanzanite and Zircon. Turquoise is one of the oldest stones known to us, and was prized amongst Native Americans, Aztecs, Incas, Persians, Chinese, and Egyptians in particular. It is a sacred stone known for protection, healing, and wisdom. It can be robin’s egg blue or laced with spider web veins in cream or brown. It’s a stone of calm and wellbeing.

Tanzanite is a relatively new deep-blue stone with hues of purple, discovered only in the 1960’s in Tanzania. It’s a stone for spiritual exploration and is a soft stone, needing care when being worn.

Zircon comes from the Arabic words ‘zar’ (gold) and ‘gun’ (colour) and is often blue, but is found in clear forms and yellow to red. It should not be confused with cubic zirconia which is a lab made gem stone. It is supposed to be a pain reliever and to protect travellers.

December - Turquoise

December – Turquoise © Lisa Shambrook

Crystals and gems, whatever your belief, are beautiful and evocative, and make me happy.

What’s your birthstone?

Monday Mixer – Stars of Change

12. Monday Mixer - Stars of Change

© Lisa Shambrook

I’d hardly noticed my nose crinkle, but the strange essence swirling about me suddenly made my insides revolt as I landed face down in the leaf litter. My stomach turned and my throat released a splash of bright bile. I rolled onto my back and stared at the roof of the cave through the miasma of cold fog.

I blinked and tried to sit but my body refused to cooperate. I moved stiffly and brought my hands to my face. One hand clutched a stone, a rock, and I prised my fingers from it, wiping my mouth with the back of my sleeve as I gazed at the stone. It was just a dull, rough pebble, but from the fracture in its surface leaked light, sparkling, fluid, effervescent light. I cracked it against the frozen ground and gasped as the geode fell open between my fingers.

Crystal stars shone, stippling light through the mist that still veiled the cave. I shivered in excitement. Memories began flooding back into my head. The search through the cave for a fabled rock, disappointment, and fear, as I’d struggled through the fog to escape, and now wonder at the sparkling gems.

In one taciturn moment, I knew it all…

I knew the words, the prophecy, the promise, and my fingers gently stroked the crystals. They were soft, malleable, and my heart caught inside my throat as I altered its molecular structure. I now had what I needed, the power to, literally, change the world.

0. Monday MixerMonday Mixer is back at The Latinum Vault, and is a week-long challenge for those of more committed to time constraints! Write 250 words, no more, no less, and include at least one of each of the chosen nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you can choose from nine and if you choose to, use all nine prompt words! So, here’s mine, including five of the nine words (highlighted in my text). Stars of Change, see, I told you I’d be writing of stars this year!

 

Blue John – Treak Cliff, Peak District

Blue John – the Indigo stone of Clarity…

Blue John - Treak Cliff, Castleton - The Last Krystallos

Crystals, gems, and stones enchant me from both a geological point of view and a healing, spiritual approach. So, when we were up in Nottingham this last weekend, Vince and I drove out to Castleton in the Peak District to visit the caverns.

Blue John - Treak Cliff - Stalactites - The Last Krystallos

Treak Cliff Cavern © Lisa Shambrook

We took an underground barge down the flooded Speedwell Cavern and learned about the lead mines and visited Peak Cavern. Peak Cavern is known as the Devil’s Arse, and is also connected to Speedwell via tunnels only accessible to potholers. We didn’t get to Blue John Cavern this time, but did go to Treak Cliff Cavern and our tour guide Katie was brilliant.

We entered via Tardis doors, because as we all know once past the tunnel going in you’ll definitely find that the caves are bigger on the inside… Treak Cliff is different from many cave systems in that moss and algae grow on the roof and walls in some spots and are encouraged as the caves also contain spiders, centipedes, and bats among other tiny wildlife. You can also see fossils adorning the walls, showing that the caves were once deep under the ocean and carved out in the Ice Age.

Treak Cliff Cavern - Castleton - Blue John Fluorite - The Last Krystallos

Blue John, Treak Cliff Cavern © Lisa Shambrook

300 years ago the original miners searched for lead, but found nothing in Treak Cliff, instead they found and disregarded a purple and yellow Calcium Fluoride (Fluorspar) running through the limestone. Its worth was later appreciated and Blue John was mined, both in Treak Cliffs and Blue John mines. This mountain is the only place in the world that Blue John is found. The caves are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and protected, and mining of Blue John is carefully monitored.

Treak Cliff Cavern - Castleton - Blue John Vein - The Last Krystallos

Blue John Vein, Treak Cliff Cavern © Lisa Shambrook

The miner who discovered the indigo-blue and yellow fluorite very imaginatively called it Blue and Yellow… In France they dropped the ‘and’ to make it Bleu Jaune, and back in Derbyshire without the romantic French accent it switched to Blue John and the name stuck!

Treak Cliff Cavern - Castleton - Blue John Pillar - The Last Krystallos

Blue John Pillar, Treak Cliff Cavern © Lisa Shambrook

I loved our tour through Treak Cliff Cavern, moving into caverns full of Blue John still running through its walls, and a pillar of the fluorite worth over 9million, but unable to be mined because the pillar holds up the cavern!

We moved into caves with flowstone, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Treak Cliff Cavern - Castleton - Stalactites - The Last Krystallos

Stalactites, Treak Cliff Cavern © Lisa Shambrook

The crystalline gemstone is valuable and rare, as I said, only found in Hope Valley near Castleton, and the mined stone is sold in rough and polished specimens, and turned into exquisite jewellery, bowls, and fine ornaments. Treak Cliff has a wonderful gift shop, which includes a display of items not for sale, but gorgeous. A Blue John dragon sits inside this display…I wish I’d taken a picture of it! I also visited Silver and Stone gift shop on Goosehill Bridge to find my slice of Blue John.

I have a lovely collection of gemstones, having researched them for my current work in progress, The Seren Stone Chronicles, and purchasing a couple of pieces of Blue John was a true pleasure.

Blue John - rough - polished slice - tiny - Calcite -Treak Cliff - The Last Krystallos

Blue John, rough and polished slice, and Calcite © Lisa Shambrook

The fluorite comes in a banded stone, yellow or white, with bands of purple crystalline. The more yellow pieces are coloured with iron ore. Sliced pieces show the gorgeous bands of purple and white. I chose a small two inch piece with intricate purple markings, which look amazing when held up to the light.

Blue John - polished slice - Treak Cliff

Blue John, polished slice © Lisa Shambrook

Blue John’s healing properties include clarity of mind and peace. It boosts mental, spiritual, and emotional awareness. Fluorite has many physical healing energies and Blue John has been used as an elixir to promote health and beneficial mineral absorption.

I love discovering the beauty of gems and stones, and Hope Valley’s secrets are there for all of us to discover, in a rich and striking vein of Blue John.