Nicknamed the "dragon stone," septaria has unique mineral patterns that resemble tree branches. Specimens are usually in the form of sliced nodules ranging from an inch in diameter to more than three feet across. They are estimated to have formed between 50 and 70 million years ago after periodic volcanic eruptions killed small sea life. The shells and carcasses of these creatures sank to the sea bed, where sediments accumulated around them to form nodules or balls of mud. When the waters eventually receded, the mud balls dried out and began to shrink and crack into the beautiful patterns that you see inside the septarian nodules.
Seraphinite was named after Seraphim, the highest rank of angels in the Bible, due to the feather-like appearance of its chatoyant fibers. The stone usually has a dark green to gray color with silvery shimmer caused by mica inclusions. This unique, somewhat mystic-looking gem is often used for carvings, decorative pieces and cut as cabochons.
Serpentine is well known to the world's mineralogists and gemologists, but is much less familiar to the general public. The marbled look of this green stone makes it ideal as an ornamental material, and it has been carved into a wide array of decorative objects throughout history. Although serpentine has a similar appearance to jade, it is a different, unrelated series of minerals.
Shanseres® is a new variety of Diopside offered for the first time at Jewelry Television in June of 2007. This type of Diopside is not treated, the color is natural, and unlike our very popular gem Chrome Diopside, Shanseres® has no presence of chromium. The lack of chromium is about the only difference between chrome diopside and Shanseres®.
Shattuckite is an extremely rare cuprian mineral that is found mixed most commonly with quartz. Its name is derived from a find in the Shattuck Mine in Bisbee, Arizona. Shattuckite comes in pale to striking blue shades.
Shells are the protective outer coverings from various animals. Most of the shell used in jewelry comes from helmet conchs, mollusks, black-lipped oysters, and abalone. The earliest known shell jewelry dates to 82,000 years ago from a site in Morocco. It is thought that shell’s first use as an ornamental material was a byproduct of the search for food. Shell is best known for its use in mother-of-pearl buttons and knife handles. Cameo carvers take advantage of the different colored layers of shell to create images of beautiful women and classical scenes.
“Shell pearls” are imitation pearls. A mother of pearl bead nucleus is coated to resemble Tahitian, South Sea, or freshwater cultured pearls. They are an affordable alternative to their more expensive counterparts.
Siderite was discovered in 1845 and derives its name from the Greek sideros (iron). Siderite has perfect cleavage in three directions and comes in a wide variety of crystal habits and colors.
Beautiful and rare, sillimanite is named for the famous American geologist Benjamin Silliman. It was relatively unknown until a substantial find was discovered in Orissa, India, in the 1990's. Sillimanite is not only scarce, but it also difficult for miners to identify and is problematic for cutters. These three attributes ensure that sillimanite remains a true exotic gemstone. Sillimanite ranges from colorless to white, brown, yellow, blue, and green in color and consists of compact fibrous material that have a silky luster. A polymorph of kyanite and andalusite, sillimanite makes an exciting addition to any gemstone collection.
Sinhalite is named after its discovery location, Sri Lanka, using its Sanskrit name, Sinhala. This rare gemstone was, until recently, only found in Sri Lanka, but is now mined in Tanzania, Madagascar and Burma. Often occurring in green to brown to brownish black hues, it was once mistakenly believed to be a variety of olivine.
Smithsonite is named for James Smithson, the English founder of the Smithsonian Institution who first identified the mineral. Although it rarely forms crystals, smithsonite is most commonly found as botryoidal or stalactitic masses or as honeycombed aggregates. A member of the calcite group of minerals, smithsonite is prized for its variety of crystal forms. Smithsonite comes in a wide variety of colors depending on the impurities present. The presence of copper gives smithsonite its green to blue coloring. Trace amounts of cobalt are responsible for pink to purple hues while cadmium makes smithsonite yellow, and iron gives it a brown to reddish-brown color.
Smoky quartz is an earth-toned transparent quartz that comes in a variety of shades, including cognac. Smoky quartz gets its rich warm colors from color centers when aluminum replaces silica in the crystal lattice of the quartz after exposure to gamma rays. A popular ornamental stone, it is often carved into figurines and ornate statues, but makes quite a statement when faceted into stunning gemstones.
Soapstone, also known as steatite, refers to compact masses of talc and other minerals known for their soapy or greasy texture. Due to its softness, it has been used since ancient times for carvings, ornaments and utensils.
Sodalite is a mineral used most often for carvings and some types of jewelry. Known for its rich, royal blue hues, sodalite is found in limited areas of the world. Frequently mottled with white veins of calcite, sodalite resembles lapis lazuli in appearance and has been mistaken for it at times. It can occur not only as blue, but also in crystals of gray, yellow, green or pink color.
South Sea Pearl
Highly coveted South Sea pearls are often described as the pinnacle of cultured pearls--they're certainly among the most rare and expensive available. Primarily farmed in the pristine waters off Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, South Sea pearls are generally much larger than other pearl types, ranging from nine to 20 millimeters, and have a unique luster due to their nacre coating. As there are two varieties of this oyster, a gold-lipped and silver-lipped, pearls can be both white to silver and golden.
Spectrolite is the tradename for the phenomenal labradorite variety from Finland. Spectrolite is known for its colorful and striking iridescence that shows blue, green, yellow, orange, and red colors. The colors are often compared to the northern lights seen in the Finnish night sky. Depending on the account, Spectrolite was discovered in either the winter of 1939-1940 or 1941 when Finland was building border fortifications during the Finnish-Russian campaign in WWII. Spectrolite mining started after the war. In 1973 a workshop was established in the Ylämaa area, Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland for cutting and polishing the gemstone.
While it was once just a collector's gem, spessartine, an orange variety of garnet, made its move into the mainstream during the 1990s when new deposits were discovered in Africa. Like most garnets, spessartine is typically untreated, so the beautiful color and clarity that you see in them is just as nature created it. Spessartine garnet is named after its first discovery in Spessart, Bavaria, in the mid 1800's.
With greater dispersion than diamond, sphalerite is an intriguing, yet challenging, gem. Known primarily to collectors for its lack of hardness, sphalerite can try the patience of even the most highly skilled lapidaries who dare to fashion it into a finished gem. Not only is it extremely soft, it also has perfect cleavage in six directions, making it extremely difficult to cut and polish! Add in the fact that it's a brittle gem, and you have an idea of the challenge that awaits its potential cutter. When a talented lapidary can complete the task of fashioning a gem, the results are more than worth the lapidary's efforts!
A brilliantly transparent gem, sphene has fire greater than that of diamond! This gem is named from the Greek word for "wedge," as its crystals are typically wedge shaped, but may be referred to by its mineral name, titanite. On rare instances, sphene may be brown or black in color, but is mainly found in a range of green to yellowish green colors. Another characteristic sphene possesses is birefringence, or double refraction, meaning that light splits into two rays as it passes through the gem. As a result, the back facets appear as double images, giving the gem a soft, hazy appearance, similar to the doubling seen in zircon.
Naturally dazzling spinel has graced the pages of history and many royal crowns due to its resemblance to ruby. Today, however, spinel stands on its own as a remarkable gem. Spinel comes in a wide range of stunning hues and can also exhibit optical phenomena like asterism and color-change. It is generally underappreciated compared to other colored stones, lending itself to more affordable prices, but this gem, said in Burma to be polished by the spirits, has a beauty that is difficult to ignore.
Spodumene is the name of a mineral species that includes two very special gems varieties: kunzite and hiddenite. Spodumene is named from the Greek spodoumenos, meaning "burnt to ash," which alludes to the ashy color of many specimens. A member of the pyroxene group, spodumene belongs to a class of minerals called silicates and it is one of a small number of minerals that contain lithium. Spodumene also occurs in many other shades of colors, all pale but very clear and brilliant. These varieties are given color descriptor names; for example, lemon spodumene.
Stalactites and stalagmites are types of speleothems or cave formations that are formed by slow deposition of minerals by dripping water. These cave formations are formed when rainwater combines with carbon dioxide to create carbonic acid which then permeates carbonate rocks in the subsurface. The acidic water dissolves carbonate material as it filters through the rock. The dissolved carbonate is carried to caves in the subsurface where the carbon dioxide is released and the water evaporates leaving calcite formations to build up over the millennia. Formations hanging from the cave roof are called stalactites while those that build up from the cave floor are called stalagmites. Sometimes the two will join to form a column. Other carbonates such as azurite and malachite, silicates such as opal and chalcedony, limonite, some sulfides, and other minerals can also be deposited. Stalactites are very fragile, and many US states and countries have laws that prohibit collecting them from caves. Some gem material stalactites have been collected as byproducts during mining. Chrysocolla stalactites have been found in the Pearl Handle Pit, in the Ray Mine, Arizona. The Morenci Mine, also in Arizona, has produced goethite and azurite stalactites. Morocco has produced azurmalachite specimens. Large malachite specimens have come from the L'Etoile du Congo Mine, sometimes called the Star of the Congo Mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Vanadinite stalactites have been found in the Mibladen Mining District, Morocco.
The name staurolite comes from the Greek word stauros, meaning cross. Staurolite is prized for its twinned crystals that intersect at 60- or 90-degree angles forming x-like or perpendicular crosses. Specimens exhibiting these forms are highly prized by collectors. Sometimes referred to respectively as St. Andrew's and Greek crosses, as well as lucky cross, fairy stone or fairy cross, legend says the crystal crosses were created by the tears of fairies who could not help but cry when they heard of Christ's crucifixion. Staurolite is a metamorphic mineral that ranges from translucent to opaque in appearance and facetable gems are very rare.