A Festive Celebration of Red, Gold and Green Coloured Gemstones
The Historic Meaning
The beautiful Christmas celebration of red, gold and green colours was first linked to the winter solstice; centuries ago, ancient Celtic people believed that holly plants brought beauty and good fortune in the middle of winter. As such, they’d regularly adorn their homes with the red and green plants to promote a prosperous new year.
Subsequently Christians believe the hues (and, more specifically, the holly wreaths they’re derived from) to be symbolic of Jesus’ crown. Where the red berries represent Jesus’ blood, the spiky green holly leaves are said to embody the crown of thorns that encircled his head on the cross.
Bright gold has been a representation of the sun and the Son (meaning the Son of God) and is used at Christmastime to bring light into the darkness and to bring warmth in the midst of a cold winter. The beautiful metal was also one of the gifts the Wise Men brought to baby Jesus and is still a popular gift, especially in the form of jewellery.
Today in more secular terms, red represents Father Christmas, most especially thanks to Santa Claus of the Coca-Cola advert first seen on our screens in 1931. Green is the colour of Christmas trees and gold is used to convey wealth, prosperity and glamour.
The Causes of Colour
Did you know that we cannot argue about the colours we see? That is because we all see colour differently.
There are three causes of colour. Firstly, the light falling onto an object, then the selective absorption of that light, both of those are constant and always the same; but the third cause, residual impact on the brain, will vary as our human eyes are all different and therefore see colour differently.
When valuing gemstones three grading criteria are considered. Firstly the ‘hue’ which is the colour of the gemstone. The ‘saturation’ describes the intensity of the colour and finally the tone which represents how light or dark the gemstone is.
When we think of red, the first gemstone that comes to mind is Ruby - the vivid red variety of corundum, coloured by chromium, its very names meaning ‘precious’. The birthstone for Leo and those born in July, it is also a very popular choice for Christmas – as our festive window display attests! Rubies with the very highest saturation of colour are described as ‘pigeon blood’ also originally a reference to their Burmese origin. For centuries this rare gemstone has been a symbol of fire and passion and today they are still a perfect representation of true love.
When coloured by anything other than chromium, the gem variety of corundum is known as sapphire. Although when we think of sapphire we imagine the beautiful blue tones, fancy-coloured sapphires actually come in every other colour of the rainbow. These stunning yellow sapphires display a range of rich golden hues. The colour is caused by the presence of iron. Previously known as oriental ‘topaz’ these gorgeous gems can be sourced in Sri Lanka and East Africa.
Another beautiful golden gemstone is citrine, the rich yellow variety of quartz, this colour is rarely found in nature so is often heat-treated amethyst. The birthstone for November this gemstone often sourced from Brazil, embodies the warm, soothing tones so welcome in the midst of a cold festive season.
We have a wonderful variety of green gemstones to share with you this Christmas. Tourmaline comes in every colour of the rainbow; the greens range from electric teal colours to olive green. Highly saturated colour without black patches is the most valuable but also less saturated “earth” colours are also prized.
Green Sapphire is a coloured by microscopic alternating bands of blue and yellow which our eyes perceive as green, sourced from Thailand, Australia, Sri Lanka this is now an increasing popular alternative to the traditional blue coloured variety.
Emerald is the beautiful bright green variety of beryl coloured by chromium, vanadium and iron. This beautiful gemstone often contains inclusions that are diagnostic and even a feature; known romantically - ‘Le Jardin’ (French for garden) as they are nature’s fingerprints. The colour of this gemstone is so prized it even has a cut especially created and named after it. The ‘emerald cut’ has rectangular cut corners and step facets to perfectly protect vulnerable edges but more importantly concentrates and celebrates the gemstones colour intensity.
As you can see, all these gemstones have a unique cut and setting, everyone is faceted to optimise the colour, brilliance and sparkle. It’s hard to choose a favourite but which one would you like to be waiting for you under the under tree?