A Guide to Gemstones
Myths & Legends

The story of gemstones is an old one. ‘Jewels’ ranging from humble seashells to rough emeralds have been found in archeological sites dating back 20,000 years. It’s no surprise that the beauty of gems, their vibrant colours and unusual shapes have inspired people to believe all sorts of mythical claims. Rubies were once believed to cure poison and aquamarines were once thought to calm the roughest of seas.


Picking the Right Type for You

Choosing the right coloured gemstone is a personal choice. You need to consider how the jewellery will be worn – for everyday wear you need to choose a relatively durable gemstone. The resistance of minerals is assessed using the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Materials appear on this scale ranging from 1-10, talcum powder is 1 and diamonds are 10. It’s worth noting the hardness of any gemstones you are considering and weighing your lifestyle against this. Pearls have traditionally been a romantic choice for engagement jewellery but they are so easily scratched by almost all other materials that I would recommend them for careful wear only.

Our Favourite Coloured Gemstones 


Sapphires are the second hardest mineral on Earth, so they are fantastically durable, 9 on the Mohs scale. They also come in a vast range of colours. Most commonly known in blue, at Alex Monroe we are especially fond of green sapphires. They also come in vibrant yellows, oranges, purples and pinks. Peach sapphires – known as Padparadscha are some of the most beautiful and rare.


Aside from once being believed to calm the seas, aquamarines are beloved for their watery blue/green colour. They rate 7.5/8 on the Mohs scale so are a very popular alternative to white diamonds in wedding jewellery.


Morganites have a uniquely peachy-pink colouring. They also have a good 7.5-8 rating on the Mohs scale. Tiny white diamonds make a lovely pairing with morganites and they look striking when set into rose coloured gold.


Occurring in a wide range of colours, most commonly known for rich berry pinks and vivid greens. We love the unusual shades you can find, and especially the ‘watermelon’ variety which sees individual stones coloured from green to red – just like the fruit! 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale, they are definitely worth considering for engagement jewellery, as long as you choose the highest quality gem with as few inclusions as possible.


Favoured by the Victorians, it’s the rich purple colour most people know. At Alex Monroe we really love pale green amethyst, which is more unusual and looks stunning with yellow gold. A type of quartz, amethyst is a 7 on the Mohs scale, so needs to be cared for gently. It makes a wonderful statement cocktail ring!


The opulent opal traditionally comes from Australia, and is characterised by flashes of coloured light which appear to radiate from within. These iridescent colours are caused by tiny spheres of amorphous silica that make up the stone. These refract the light and create the colour play we see. Opals are not like other gemstones, they are not crystalline, they are formed from hardened silica gel. This makes them unusual but also incredibly fragile. They can suffer from changes in temperature, humidity and light so must be stored and worn very carefully. 5.5-6 on the Mohs scale.



Creating Your Own

Today, many people are veering towards unusual engagement rings, opting for creative styles that reflect their personality. Coloured gemstones are the perfect choice for engagement rings that make a statement and are a great way to express individual style. If you are looking for a bespoke ring, then there’s no better choice than a unique coloured gemstone – many of which are one of a kind!

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