Precious Metals & Gems

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Diamond is the hardest mineral on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, with a rating of 10, and is four times harder than the next mineral on the chart, corundum, of which sapphire and ruby are varieties. The Mohs scale is the most common system used for this measurement. It is a relative scale, grading the comparative hardness of 10 common minerals and their resistance to scratching.

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  • What are the names of green gems?

    Q: What are the names of green gems?

    A: The most well-known varieties of green gemstones are emerald and jade, both of which have high values for translucence and vivid, rich colors. A more uncommon green gem is the green diamond. Alexandrite is an interesting green gem that can also shine pink, yellow or red depending upon environmental lighting.
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  • Why does sterling silver turn black?

    Q: Why does sterling silver turn black?

    A: Sterling silver turns black or tarnishes due to a chemical reaction caused by contact with sulfur or hydrogen. Some foods or everyday items containing sulfur can cause tarnishing, but even polluted air can turn sterling silver black.
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  • What is a diamond's streak?

    Q: What is a diamond's streak?

    A: "Streak" is the word used to describe the color of a diamond when it is reduced to powder form. It has nothing do do with an actual streak.
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  • Where does jade come from?

    Q: Where does jade come from?

    A: Jade is derived from a naturally occurring mineral called jadeite, which is collected in locations all over the world, from Alaska to Guatemala and Central Asia. Jadeite comes in several different colors and forms, and it is only known as jade when used as a gem for carving or jewelry.
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  • What is a canary diamond?

    Q: What is a canary diamond?

    A: A canary diamond is a bright yellow diamond. Though people think of a clear or white diamond when they think of a quality diamond, colored diamonds can be even more expensive.
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  • What are diamonds used for?

    Q: What are diamonds used for?

    A: Diamonds are worn as jewelry and used in a variety of industrial applications. Diamond is the hardest natural substance in the world, and stones that are too small or do not have the requisite quality for jewelry mounting are often used as drill bits or ground into abrasive powder. Others become tools used to cut and polish gem-quality diamonds.
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  • What are the common diamond cuts?

    Q: What are the common diamond cuts?

    A: The most common diamond cuts, as of 2014, include round, emerald, princess and radiant. A diamond’s cut is normally determined by the size and shape of the original, rough stone.
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  • How is silver made?

    Q: How is silver made?

    A: Silver is usually obtained as a by-product of the process of purifying other metals such as copper, lead and zinc. Silver can also be collected from refining gold or from silver ores. It is usually separated from its ores using a flotation process and then purified by smelting.
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  • What is gold overlay?

    Q: What is gold overlay?

    A: Gold overlay is a thick coating of gold that jewelers lay over metal jewelry. The process has been around for thousands of years, and jewelry that undergoes this process is more valuable than other types of jewelry that has gold added to it in a different way. In gold-plated jewelry, the gold is plated on top of the metal and doesn't last as long as gold overlay.
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  • How are rubies formed?

    Q: How are rubies formed?

    A: According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, rubies are formed when the mineral corundum is exposed to chromic oxide in metamorphic environments between 1148 to 1238 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also two prominent methods of making synthetic rubies in a laboratory. The flame-fusion method produces a gem with notable imperfections. The flux-growth method produces a synthetic ruby that is nearly indistinguishable from a real one.
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  • How can I tell real turquoise from fake?

    Q: How can I tell real turquoise from fake?

    A: To determine whether or not turquoise is authentic, check for uniform color throughout the piece, opaqueness and low shine. Fake turquoise is often made from pale stones injected with dye, which appear overly shiny, clear and streaked, according to BJBead.com.
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  • Where do Swarovski crystals come from?

    Q: Where do Swarovski crystals come from?

    A: Swarovski crystals are machine-cut crystal beads made in Austria. Daniel Swarovski developed the formula in the 1800s. Swarovski crystals are silver in color and are used in necklaces, rings, watches, earrings and bracelets.
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  • What type of diamond cut is the most expensive?

    Q: What type of diamond cut is the most expensive?

    A: Heart-cut diamonds are the most expensive style due to the cost and expertise required to manufacture diamonds in this shape. The process of cutting a diamond into a heart shape is difficult and demands a skilled diamond cutter. A heart-shaped diamond is usually larger than one carat because the cutting process is easier with a bigger diamond.
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  • What are the birthstones for each month?

    Q: What are the birthstones for each month?

    A: The gemstone for January is garnet; for February, amethyst; for March, aquamarine; for April, diamond; for May, emerald; for June, pearl and Alexandrite; for July, ruby; for August, peridot; for September, sapphire; for October, opal and tourmaline; for November, topaz and citrine; and for December, tanzanite, zircon and turquoise. A birthstone is a gem linked to a particular month of the year.
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  • Where can I sell my used gold jewelry?

    Q: Where can I sell my used gold jewelry?

    A: Gold jewelry can be sold to direct buyers, mail-away operations, pawnshops, gold parties and traditional jewelry stores. Businesses that are Better Business Bureau accredited are the safest type of business to sell to, according to ABC News.
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  • What are Olympic gold medals made of?

    Q: What are Olympic gold medals made of?

    A: Olympic gold medals are required to be made of sterling silver covered with at least 6 grams of pure gold, according to About.com. Each gold medal must have a diameter of at least 60 millimeters.
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  • What is brass?

    Q: What is brass?

    A: Brass is an alloy that is a mixture of the metals zinc and copper. Using brass makes sense for many manufacturers since it is durable and easily transformed into objects.
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  • Why does silver turn your finger green?

    Q: Why does silver turn your finger green?

    A: Silver may turn your finger green if the silver reacts to acids in the skin or other substances on the skin. This problem arises mostly with inexpensive jewelry, or silver-plated jewelry, as opposed to pure sterling.
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  • What are types of gold?

    Q: What are types of gold?

    A: The primary types of gold contain different purities, which are measured in karats. Gold overlay refers to items that are made from a non-gold metal that is permanently coated with gold. To be considered gold overlay, the gold weight must equal at least 10 percent of the total weight. Gold is available in yellow, white and rose colors, which are created by mixing it with other metals.
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  • What is a mystic topaz?

    Q: What is a mystic topaz?

    A: A mystic topaz is a chemically treated clear topaz with a shiny, multicolored luster that flashes blue, green, purple and pink. According to Gem Select, some retailers sell mystic topaz labelled as "fire topaz," "Alaska topaz" or "mystic fire topaz." It is inexpensive and durable but prone to cracking when hit with significant force.
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  • How hard is a diamond?

    Q: How hard is a diamond?

    A: Diamond is the hardest mineral on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, with a rating of 10, and is four times harder than the next mineral on the chart, corundum, of which sapphire and ruby are varieties. The Mohs scale is the most common system used for this measurement. It is a relative scale, grading the comparative hardness of 10 common minerals and their resistance to scratching.
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