Aquamarine -March Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on March 11, 2019

Aquamarine -March Birthstone

In the northern hemisphere, March signals the coming of spring and warmer weather. The soft blue to blue-green color of aquamarine, the March birthstone, is perfect for this month, as it evokes the serenity and the tranquility of the seaside in early spring. Aquamarine gets its name from the Latin words ‘aqua’ meaning water and ‘mare’ which means the sea. This beautiful stone was also thought to be the treasure of mermaids, and its energetic qualities were believed to be especially strong when it was submerged in water.
 
True to its name, the lovely aquamarine was thought to protect sailors from the wrath of Poseidon, God of the Sea. Sailors, caught in a storm, would throw their aquamarines over the side of the ship into the sea in a last ditch effort to cool Poseidon’s temper.
 
The stone’s cool blue-green color was thought to cool human tempers and calm angry hearts as well. My favorite historical (and slightly odd!) fact about the lovely stone comes from the ancient Romans, who thought that a frog carved from aquamarine would help to resolve differences between enemies. Many people who lived in the Middle Ages believed that wearing an aquamarine would prevent them from being poisoned (another odd fact!) Sumerian, Egyptian, and Hebrew warriors wore the aquamarine into battle to help them achieve victory.

 

Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family and gets its lovely color from the presence of iron. All the members of the beryl family derive their color from the presence of metallic elements. Otherwise, they would be colorless. The stone can vary in color from it's characteristic pale blue, with the darker stones being more valuable as well as more desirable. The biggest source for aquamarine is Brazil but Africa is rapidly becoming a secondary and important source of this popular gemstone.
 
Aquamarine is also associated with courage, loyalty, friendship, and communication as well as beauty.  For anyone with a March birthday, a beautiful Irish Claddagh ring in either sterling silver, white or yellow gold and set with a gorgeous blue-green aquamarine as the heart makes a perfect gift, evoking all these qualities and more.  And with its reputation for smoothing over relationships and re-awakening lost love, the tranquil aquamarine was often given as an anniversary gift and is listed as the official 19th-anniversary gemstone as well.
 
Even if your birthday is not in March, the beguiling blue of the beautiful aquamarine set in a lovely Claddagh pendant or a pair of beautiful Claddagh earrings is a wonderful way to treat yourself any time of year!

Amethyst - February’s Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on January 28, 2019

Amethyst - February’s Birthstone

The beautiful purple amethyst is just right for February, for many some of the coldest and darkest weeks of winter, so the warmth of this stone’s rich, royal color makes this gem a perfect choice for this month’s birthstone  St. Valentine  supposedly wore an amethyst ring and Roman soldiers, recognizing the ring, would ask him to perform the marriage ceremony for them and their loves. Perhaps this is why this beautiful stone is said to attract love.

 

Celtic February Birthstone Sterling Silver Pendant


The stone’s purple color reminded the ancient Greeks of wine and it was thought that amethyst could protect one from drunkenness. Although there are many variations of the story, according to Aristotle, Amethyst was a nymph who was suffering the unwanted amorous attentions of Bacchus, the god of winemaking, and who pleaded with the goddess Diana for her protection. Diana answered Amethyst’s plea and transformed her into a gemstone. To commemorate his love for the nymph, Bacchus not only gave the stone its purple color but transmitted to it the quality of protecting whoever wore the stone from the ill effects of too much wine. Thus began the practice of drinking wine made from cups of amethyst.

February Birthstone w/ Crystals Claddagh Sterling Silver Pendant

Amethyst was thought to have many other wonderful qualities as well. Soldiers valued amethyst’s ability to protect them from surprise attacks and to make them victorious in battle. Hunters appreciated its assistance in the successful killing of wild beasts and the gemstone was widely thought to protect against witchcraft as well as black magic. Farmers who wore amethysts believed their crops to be protected from storms and hailstones. "Ahlamah”, the Hebrew word for amethyst, means ‘dreams’ and the stone is thought to be the cause of beautiful dreams.

 

Sterling Silver February Birthstone Claddagh Earrings


The English, in particular, held amethyst in high esteem. Beads made from the gemstone have been found in Anglo-Saxon graves. Queen Elizabeth has a historic set of amethyst jewelry, known as the Kent Demi-Parure, which was originally owned by Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent and has been passed down to the Crown. Tibetans hold much reverence for the stone as well, as they believe that amethyst was sacred to the Buddha and often make their prayer beads from it.

 

Sterling Silver February Birthstone Claddagh Ring


Most of today’s amethysts are mined in Brazil. At the beginning of the 20th century, large deposits were discovered in South America, making the stone much more widely available than it had been. This is the reason much of the older amethyst jewelry comes from that era. Before the Brazilian source had been found, most amethysts came from Siberia, a place that was cold, remote and inaccessible, so at that time most of these beautiful gemstones were in the possession of royalty or other aristocracies.

 

Sterling Silver Claddagh February Birthstone Pendant

Amethyst is also found in many locations within the United States, including Arizona, Texas, Yellowstone National Park, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and many other places. Canada also boasts large deposits of the gemstone, with the largest amethyst mine in North America located in Ontario. It’s no wonder the official gemstone of the Province of Ontario is the amethyst!

 

Sterling Silver with Crystal February Birthstone Claddagh Pendant


Amethyst belongs to the quartz family. Quartz, composed of silicon and oxygen, is colorless in its pure state. Just a few ‘stray’ atoms of another element will cause quartz to take on a variety of beautiful colors. With amethyst, it is just a scattering of iron atoms that cause the vibrant purple hue. Depending on the number of iron atoms in a particular stone, amethyst’s colors can vary widely from light lilac to deep violet to royal purple.

February Birthstone Rings

 

Only a relatively small amount of amethyst deposits are found in the soils of the Emerald Isle. One of these locations is on Achill Island off the western coast of County Mayo. The cliffside road to Keem Bay off Achill Island crosses a geological boundary where a vein of amethyst is exposed to view. Locals say the best time to hunt for amethyst gemstones on Achill Island is just after a rain. Fortunately for gem hunters, Ireland gets plenty!

February Birthstone Claddagh Pendant


But even if Ireland is not so well known for its amethyst deposits, this beautiful stone is shown off to perfection in this gorgeous Claddagh pendant with an amethyst stone set as the heart, in sterling silver, white or yellow gold. And what better complement to the pendant than these matching Claddagh amethyst earrings. Add to your collection with this Irish amethyst Claddagh ring and you will have a set worthy of royalty!

Sterling Silver February Birthstone Ring


Amethyst jewelry should not be overexposed to strong sunlight, as this can fade the color. Avoid subjecting your amethyst to heat, so your stones should not be steam cleaned. The safest method for cleaning your amethyst jewelry is to use warm soapy water. With a little care, your amethyst jewelry will remain beautiful for generations to come.

The History Of The Claddagh Ring

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on August 13, 2018

the history of the claddagh ring blog post

The origins of the Claddagh ring are blurred by history. However, the most likely account (and the one that does not involve mythology of any sort) is the story of Richard Joyce. Joyce was a native of Galway and left his home to pursue work overseas in the 17th century. While at sea, his vessel was attacked by pirates, and Joyce was taken as a slave.

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How to Wear a Claddagh Ring

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on April 08, 2018

How to Wear a Claddagh Ring

Traditionally, Claddagh rings were worn in Ireland to show marital status – a tradition that still continues today. The hand on which the ring is worn, as well as the direction that the heart faces, will tell observers if the person is open to love, in love, or married.  There are a few different ways how to wear a Claddagh ring, depending on what you are trying to tell people.

 

How to wear a Claddagh ring on right hand with heart facing away from you.

Worn on right hand with heart facing away from you
When worn in this manner (heart closest to the fingernail), it means that a person is willing to consider love or a relationship. The person is showing the world that their heart is open to love, as it has not yet been won over. Claddagh rings can be worn by both the male and female.

 

How to wear a Claddagh ring on right left with heart facing towards you.
Worn on right hand with heart facing towards you

Once a person has entered into a relationship, the Claddagh ring remains on the right hand, but is turned so that the heart now faces the wearer. This is a statement that your heart is now taken, and no longer open to others. The Claddagh ring makes a perfect engagement ring.

This method of wearing is also used by those who are simply not interested in starting a relationship at the present time.

 

How to wear a Claddagh ring on right hand with heart facing towards you.
Worn on left hand with heart facing towards you

Once married, the ring is then placed on the other hand and worn with the heart facing the wearer. This shows that two hearts have now been joined together forever. In this manner, the Claddagh ring can be worn as an Irish wedding ring. Placing the Claddagh ring on the left hand is often a part of an Irish wedding ceremony for both the man and the woman.


Misspellings of the word Claddagh
Although very familiar to some, the term Claddagh is not the easiest to spell – particularly when the only experience might be the spoken word.  Even internet search engines do not always know what it is that we mean!  We often see very simple misspellings such as cladah , cladagh, or claddah, or claddaugh (very common), clauddagh or cladaugh. Sometimes, the misspellings are a little more inventive and we notice people searching for cladder, clatter, claudia or clauda rings. The important thing about the Claddagh ring however, is not how you spell it.  It is remembering the symbolism of Love, Loyalty and Friendship that the ring represents, and the heritage that it symbolizes.

Blue Topaz - December’s Icy Birthstone

By Julie O'Shaughnessy
on December 07, 2017

Blue Topaz - December’s Icy Birthstone

With the winter season comes ice and snow. The beautiful golds and muted browns of fall are gone now, and in their place, the blue of the sky is reflected on frozen ponds. This icy color is reminiscent of this month’s birthstone, the blue topaz.

 

Celtic Knot Birthstone Pendant - December


The name ‘Topaz’ comes from Topazios, which is the name given by the ancient Greeks to St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Yellow gems were mined on this island but in all likelihood, they were not topaz. However, the name soon became applied to all yellow gems. Topaz is mentioned in the King James Bible as well as in ancient Greek texts, but it’s not at all certain that these texts actually referred to true topaz or to other yellow gems.

Topaz, in its pure state, is actually colorless. Like so many other birthstones, it’s the presence of impurities in the stone that give it color and life. Topaz ranges from a brownish orange to a yellowish color, with the most sought-after color being imperial topaz, which is a vibrant orange with undertones of pink.

Although blue topaz has become increasingly available, it’s rarely found in nature and is usually produced by radiation treatment of common colorless topaz. A light blue variety of topaz is found in Texas, and although it is not commercially mined, the blue topaz became an official gemstone of Texas in 1969. Utah has also honored blue topaz as its state gemstone.

Most topaz comes from South America, with Brazil the largest producer. The stone is also mined in Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, Germany, and Mexico. Topaz is also found in the United States, mostly in New Hampshire, Utah, and California.

Russia was a leading producer in the 19th century and a pinkish orange topaz was mined in the country’s Ural Mountains. This topaz was given the name ‘Imperial topaz’ in honor of the Russian czar and not surprisingly, only members of the royal household were allowed to possess it. In 1740 what was originally thought to be the largest diamond ever found, at 1,640 carats, was found in Brazil and eventually set in the Portuguese crown. The stone is now believed to be, not a diamond, but a colorless topaz.

Topaz is relatively hard compared to other gemstones, with only diamonds, corundum, and chrysoberyl being harder. Although it’s a hard stone, there is a peculiarity in its cleavage that makes it subject to chipping or cracking if it is not cut correctly.

Topaz has a long association with healing powers. African shamans employed it in their rituals, using it for healing. The Hindus believed topaz to be sacred and thought wearing a topaz pendant would bring both longevity as well as wisdom to the wearer. In the European Renaissance, many people thought topaz could calm anger and break spells, cure madness and dispel nightmares. Another popular association, most likely because of the stone’s golden color, was to wealth, with many people believing it had the mystical power to attract gold. Blue topaz is a stone that evokes peacefulness as it soothes, aligns and heals.

Besides being the December birthstone, topaz is given as a gift on the fourth and nineteenth marriage anniversaries, as the stone has often been seen as a symbol of love and affection. Nothing will cheer her this winter like a beautiful sterling silver Irish Claddagh ring with a blue topaz stone set as the heart. Matched with these gorgeous Claddagh earrings with simulated blue topaz stones and this Claddagh pendant with a simulated blue topaz stone set as the heart, this is a gift that will melt the thickest winter ice!

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