Gemstones of Eurasia
Not surprisingly, this large continent is the source of a large proportion of the world’s gems. Most of these gems come from two regions.
One is South Asia, where India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Pakistan produce Grape Garnet®, iolite, red garnet, Seafoam Tourmaline®, chrysoberyl, blue sapphire, yellow sapphire, emerald, sapphire, topaz, and other gems.
The other is Southeast Asia. Burma produces the world’s finest ruby, spinel, and jadeite and fine peridot, sapphire, and South Sea cultured pearls. Thailand produces ruby, sapphire, zircon, and other gems as well as being an important gem world cutting and trading center. Vietnam produces ruby and pink sapphire. Laos produces sapphire. Cambodia produces sapphire and the world’s finest blue zircon.
But Russia has long been a producer of gems of quality if not quantity. It was here in 1830 that alexandrite, a variety of chrysoberyl that changes from red in incandescent light to green in daylight, was discovered. Red and green being the royal family’s colors, it was named after Czar Alexander. Russia is also the source of the world’s finest demantoid garnet, a brilliant and firey bright green garnet with dispersion that rivals diamond. Pink topaz, Siberian amethyst, and diamonds of fine quality are also mined here. An emerald deposit in the Ural mountains has shown promise. The most recent discovery is Imperial Diopside™, a very fine example of bright green diopside colored by chromium. This Siberian gem is mined in mountains that are covered in snow from October to June.
China has only recently been developing its gem deposits. In the past, some gem resources were produced quickly in large quantities without attention to quality, so that Chinese origin had a negative connotation. Early tourmaline mines, for example, often used dynamite, fracturing the crystals so that cut gems were either small or fractured. Freshwater pearls were grown quickly, with no time for luster to develop.
Today, careful production of smaller quantities and strict quality standards are changing China’s reputation. Freshwater pearls with exceptional size and luster are as beautiful as they are durable, with thick nacre that forms virtually the entire pearl instead of a thin coating as in saltwater cultured pearls. Spice Pearls™, selected from the top one percent of quality freshwater pearls, also have lovely distinctive natural pastel colors.
And early this century, a new gem variety was discovered in Western China, on the route of the ancient Silk Road. Tashmarine, the unique new spring green variety of diopside, is showing that gems from China can be rare and beautiful as well as available and affordable. It may be a sign of a colorful rainbow of gems to come.
Learn more about these gems of Eurasia in our Gem Fact Files: