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Coloured gems and their story

Each gem has its own unique story behind it. If you have ever wondered about the history of some of the best-known gems, you’ll find a brief history of diamonds, topaz, opal, amethyst and emeralds here.


The word ‘diamond’ has its origins in ancient Greece, where it means ‘unbreakable’. It is believed that the gems originated in India some 6,000 years ago, although some say the diamond dates back only 3,000 years.

A pure diamond won’t have any colour, but there are a vast range of coloured diamonds available if you prefer.

These gems have become increasingly widespread over the years and they are considered among the most valuable; diamonds are a popular choice for rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.


There are different theories about the origins of the word Topaz. Some sources say the name originates from ancient Greece, however, others state that Topaz is a Sanskrit word, which means fire.

According to Greek myth, the Topaz stone is believed to be a symbol of strength, and in India it is associated with a long life and good health.

Pure Topaz doesn’t have any colour, but impurities can leave the gems with a range of different shades, including red, yellow, green, blue or brown.


The name opal is believed to originate from Sanskrit. It is thought that the opal was originally called ‘upala’, which means valuable stone.

It was the 19th century when the opal began to become more commonplace, and today, it is Australia that plays the largest part in the gemstones production, with the vast majority of the world’s sources of this striking gem being mined from New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.

Opals are often colourless, but they also come in numerous different shades, including yellow, orange and blue with the most prized being gem quality black opal.


Amethyst is named from the Greek word ‘amethystos’, and the Romans used to believe it could guard against drunkenness. They were commonly used in ancient Egypt, where they were worn as an amulet, as it was believed amethysts protected against danger and acted as a guard against bad luck.

Today, most of the world’s amethyst production comes from Zambia, but they are also produced in other countries such as Brazil, Sri Lanka and Bolivia.


Famed for their striking green colour, the emerald was once considered as a holy gemstone, and the gem take its colour from minerals such as chromium. Its name simply means ‘green gem’.

It was once thought that these gems have healing powers, while others believe that emeralds bring good luck, but they can also be viewed as a symbol of beauty and love.

The mining of the emerald dates back to ancient Egypt, but today Columbia is one of the world’s biggest producers.

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