Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blue Zircon - December's Birthstone

Blue Zircon image
Though it is generally accepted that the custom of birthstones originated from the Breastplate of Aaron, a religious article which held twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel, over the years different cultures have interpreted the instructions for fabricating the breastplate differently resulting in a variety of birthstone lists. And though it is also probable that these stones were assigned according to astrological sign, in recent times it has become popular to appoint the variety of birthstones to the months of the year. The month of December, the final month of the year, is certainly no different in this respect and has a number of possibilities.

The modern birthstones for December have been Turquoise or Tanzanite, but in recent years Blue Zircon has become very popular. Turquoise is a valuable and ancient mineral which has found strong popularity in jewelry made by Native Americans. In fact, some of the finest turquoise comes from the southwestern United States. Esteemed for thousands of years as a holy stone, its blue and green color is created by its composition of both copper and iron, respectively. But being a soft and sensitive stone, turquoise must be coated and cared for or it will lose it’s color with time.

Another popular choice for December’s birthstone is Tanzanite, the blue variety of the gemstone zoisite. First discovered in Africa in 1967, it is named after the only place in the world where it has ever been found, Tanzania. It has since become one of the most popular and desired gemstones in the world for its deep blue aura, thanks primarily to New York jewelry company Tiffany who soon after its discovery marketed the stone heavily to the general public under the name Tanzanite. Consisting of calcium aluminum silicate and a Mohs’ Hardness of only 6.5 to 7, tanzanite is a delicate stone which also requires much care.

Blue Zircon is one of the true Biblestones in the Breastplate of Aaron, where it appears in the third row under the name “ligure”. But zircons reputation has suffered in modern times because of its names similarity to “cubic zirconia”, a lab-created gem used as a diamond simulant. Occurring worldwide, zircon is also mined for the metal zirconium, which is used for abrasive and insulating purposes.

The name Zircon is most commonly believed to be derived from the Persian word “zargun”, meaning golden-colored, as one of the most common varieties of zircon is yellow.

Zircon can be found naturally in a variety of colors as well as in its colorless state, which resembles the diamond in luster and dispersion. But by far the most popular color of zircon today is blue, which is produced with higher temperatures. And bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of 7.5, it is significantly harder than both turquoise and tanzanite, and though it is somewhat susceptible to chipping, it remains an excellent choice for daily wear, and works well as a component of a mothers ring or mothers pendant.

Some historians believe that each birthstone may have originally been worn throughout the year by everyone, in rhythm with the zodiac, since each gemstones powers were heightened during its respective month. If so, why not start your own collection of birthstone jewelry, one for each month of the year?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Citrine - November's Birthstone

Citrine is a variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to reddish brown in color. The yellow color, which differentiates Citrine from other quartz varieties such as Amethyst or Smokey Quartz, is due to traces of iron and silicon dioxide within the crystalline structure. Natural Citrine actually is quite rare and is more often created when Amethyst formations near natural heat sources in the Earth’s crust are heated beyond about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point the Amethyst turns yellow or reddish brown becoming Citrine. Interestingly, Citrine may be returned to a purple color by applying beta radiation to it, and sometimes Citrine exhibits both colors, at which point it is referred to as Ametrine. These processes were originally discovered in the middle of the 18th century, but were quickly perfected resulting in a boom on Citrine in Europe. These days only a trained specialist can recognize these “burnt stones”.


Because it is so rarely found in nature, there is very little mythology related to Citrine. However, because of its resemblance to Topaz, it’s alleged miraculous powers very closely match those of Topaz as well. In ancient times, Citrine was worn to protect from snake venom. It was also believed to aid with digestive problems, stomach ailments, and circulation and improve mental focus and physical endurance. Ancient Romans used Citrine in intaglio designs as well as in their jewelry making. And in these times it was also believed that keeping a Citrine crystal in one's cashbox helped one maintain his wealth.

The name Citrine is derived from the old French word for lemon, "citron", while darker colored Citrine crystals are named Madeira because of their color’s resemblance to Madeira wine.


Nowadays, most Citrine comes from Brazil, Russia, CitrinesSpain, France and Hungary, and has become very plentiful, and therefore very affordable. As a result, jewelry makers are using bigger cuts of Citrine in their jewelry and budget minded jewelry buyers really can’t do better for their money.

Bearing a Mohs' Hardness rating of 7, Citrine is quite insensitive to scratches. And with a crystalline structure almost impervious to cleavage, Citrine therefore also makes a good choice for everyday jewelry.

Citrine is the birthstone for the month of November and is also used to celebrate the thirteenth wedding anniversary, and as an alternate for the eleventh wedding anniversary. If your birthday is in the month of November, consider a Black Hills Gold birthstone necklace with a warm, mellow Citrine stone.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Opal - October's Birthstone

Landstroms Opal Earrings
The Opal has no crystalline structure, as do most gemstones, but instead is comprised of varying sizes of minute, spherically grouped chains of silicon and oxygen. The more precious the Opal, the more organized the groups of spheres and the more consistent their sizes. This resulting structure creates a changing play of colors as light is dissected and diffracted through the spheres at different wavelengths creating all the colors of the rainbow. It is this colorful, translucent appearance that gives us the term "opalescence".

Almost 95% of all Opals come from Australia,
where billions of years ago a vast sea which covered parts of Australia created just the right mineral deposits for their creation. The remaining percentage comes from Mexico, northern Brazil, the northwestern US, Canada and Africa. Until as late as the mid-19th century, however, Opals were fairly rare. An accidental discovery in Australia at that time changed the fate of the Opal forever. Now one of the most charismatic of gemstones, the Opal is believed to have healing powers which are more exemplified in people born under the sign of Cancer.
The Greeks believed that the Opal was formed from tears of joy as Zeus wept after defeating the Titans. The Romans considered Opals symbolic of purity and believed them to prevent eye disease. And the Opal is of significant spiritual value in Aboriginal mythology as well.
There are several origins for the name Opal. One is that it is derived from Sanskrit "upala", meaning "precious stone". The Greeks knew it by "opallios", meaning “color change”, while the Romans referred to it as "opalus", which translates to "stone from many elements".

Several types of Opal are particularly popular: Black Opals have a dark base which shows a more brilliant play of colors; Boulder Opal, which is a thick layer of Opal fused to brown host rock; and White Opals, the least expensive Opals, show a more diffused spectrum of colors.

Bearing a Mohs' Hardness rating of 5.5-6, Opals are not very hard. They also contain a considerable amount of water, which generally varies between 2 and 6%, but can be more. This varying percentage of water can make Opals brittle. For these reasons, care should be taken when cleaning them.

The Opal is also the birthstone for the month of October. It is also used to celebrate the fourteenth wedding anniversary, and as an alternate for the twelfth wedding anniversary. If your birthday is in the month of October, consider a pair of Black Hills Gold Opal earrings and perhaps a matching Opal pendant with a colorful, sparkling Opal.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sapphire - September's Birthstone

The most celebrated and intense Sapphires are a rich, deep blue but Sapphire may be any color except red. Yellow, green, white, purple and even pink-colored corundum is referred to as Sapphire while true red-colored corundum is known as Ruby. While trace amounts of chromium result in the Ruby's red color, it is other elements, notably iron and chrome that result in the different colored stones referred to as Sapphires.

Like other gemstones, Sapphire crystals are formedSapphires by intense heat and pressure beneath the Earth over millions of years. During this process some Sapphires develop tiny needle-like crystals that result in a phenomenon called asterism. This is the optical property which causes a reflective surface in the shape of a "star". Popular Star Sapphires commonly have six ray stars, though Sapphires with twelve ray stars are possible.


Early use of Sapphires as gem stones dates back to around 800 BC when the ancient Persians believed that the sky was colored blue because of the reflection of Sapphires. Ancient tradition holds that the Ten Commandments were carved on Sapphire tablets, while Kings wore the stone around their necks to ward off evil and protect them from harm. The stone holds numerous associations with the Catholic Church as well, being listed as the second foundation stone in Revelations XXI.

The name Sapphire is commonly believed to come from the Latin and Greek words for blue, "saphirus" and "sapheiros", respectively. However, some associate the name Sapphire with the planet Saturn because it can be translated as “dear to the planet Saturn” in Vedic and a number of different languages.


Blue is the color most associated with the personal qualities of friendship and loyalty, exuding harmony and wellness through truth and understanding. But it seems that ever since Prince Charles gave Princess Diana a Sapphire engagement ring there’s been an increase in the popularity of Sapphires used to represent fidelity and devotion. More and more couples are choosing this gem stone for engagement or eternity rings as well as journey necklaces.

Bearing a Mohs' Hardness rating of 9, Sapphires are the second hardest substance known to mankind, though the Diamond is nearly four times harder. This makes the Sapphire a very easy to care for gem stone. The Sapphire is also the birthstone for the month of September, and because it symbolizes sincerity and faithfulness, it makes a popular and sensible choice for an engagement ring. The Sapphire is also used to celebrate the fifth, forty-fifth and seventieth wedding anniversaries, and as an alternate for the seventh and tenth wedding anniversaries. If your birthday is in the month of September, consider a Black Hills Gold Sapphire ring or pendant with a beautiful deep blue Sapphire, available at

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Landstroms introduces line of inexpensive Vermeil Black Hills Gold

cheap Black Hills Gold
In an effort to help make owning authentic, quality, Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry a reality for many people In this time of economic uncertainty, Landstroms has just introduced their lower priced line of Black Hills Gold Vermeil jewelry.

Landstroms Vermeil (pronounced: ver•may) jewelry is hand crafted in .925 sterling silver, plated with 24 karat Black Hills Gold. The grape clusters, infinity symbol and accent motifs are made from 10 karat Black Hills Gold while the leaves are 12 karat. Since vermeil is made mostly of silver and not gold, it is much less expensive than solid Black Hills Gold, while retaining all of Landstroms legendary quality and unmatched appearance.

This new line is also a high quality alternative to all the low quality Black Hills Gold jewelry currently hitting the market.

Read the entire press release here:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peridot - August’s Birthstone

The Peridot (pronounced: pair•a•doe) is the yellowish to olive green gem variety of the mineral olivine. Olivine itself is comprised of two other minerals, fayalite and forsterite, the main composition of each being iron and magnesium, respectively. Though most Peridot is the magnesium rich forsterite, it’s the amount of iron in olivine which contributes most to the final color of Peridot, with amounts less than 15% resulting in the higher quality gems. Other trace elements that contribute to its color are nickel and chromium.

Like other gemstones, Peridot crystals are formed by intense heat and pressure beneath the Earth over millions of years. And over the years, Peridot has been confused with a number of other gemstones, such as the emerald because of its potential range of green color. Thus many jewelers refer to it as “evening emerald”, a nickname given to Peridot by the Romans.


Early use of Peridot dates back to around 1500 BC when it was mined on Saint John’s Island in the Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt. The Egyptians considered it the gem of the sun and used it extensively in their jewelry. In fact, early miners searched for Peridot at night because they believed that moonlight made the crystals easier to find. The finest Peridot is considered to come from Myanmar and Egypt, though a relatively new deposit discovered in 1994 in Kashmir has led to some of the world’s finest stones. Other important sources include China, Africa, Australia and the US where Arizona provides an abundant source, though of somewhat lessor quality.

Peridot was considered by the Egyptians to protect against infections and evil, and clean and heal the heart. It is also mentioned throughout the Bible where it symbolizes purity and morality. Many still consider Peridot a tonic for the whole body, believing that it has a healing effect on the gall bladder and liver, reduces stress and protects the wearer from negativity.

It is unclear where the word Peridot comes from as there are several popular beliefs. Some insist that the name Peridot comes from the Greek word “peridona”, which implies “to give richness”. But other beliefs are that the word comes from the Arabic word “faridat”, which means “gem “ or that it is derived from the word “peritot” which, in Old French, means “unclear”. Further, the stone is mentioned in the Bible under the Hebrew name of “pitdah”. Which of these is correct?


Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of 6.5 to 7, the Peridot is not a particularly hard gemstone. And because it’s many inclusions make it easily prone to cracking during cutting, it’s one of the more difficult gemstones for the cutter to work with. However, once the cutter has removed the major inclusions, the way the light refracts through the stone’s remaining ones give off a very rich glow. Because of its affordability, and since caring for it is fairly easy, the Peridot is becoming quite popular in modern times.

The Peridot is also the birthstone for the month of August, it’s vivid green making the perfect compliment to summer attire. The Peridot is also used to celebrate the first wedding anniversary, and as an alternate for the sixteenth wedding anniversary. If your birthday is in the month of August, consider a birthstone ring or pendant with the gemstones of your choice, including a beautiful, vibrant green Peridot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Miss Rodeo America Celebrates 55th Anniversary

Miss Rodeo America Timeline
Miss Rodeo America, along with the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo., is celebrating another milestone in the history of rodeo. Miss Rodeo America an American Tradition, is on exhibit at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame as the organization prepares for the pageant where the 55th Miss Rodeo America will be crowned.

The exhibit is open to the public and features a collection of awards, clothing, boots and photos gathered from former Miss Rodeo America titleholders. A collage of photos of Miss Rodeo America 2009, Maegan Ridley, greets visitors as they enter the exhibit. The ambiance of royalty is displayed as guests navigate through, “A Royal Timeline,” spanning the length of one wall.

Landstroms TiaraOn display is a Blue Bell original suit made for and worn by the fist Miss Rodeo America, Marilyn Scott. The original Landstrom’s Black Hills Gold tiara made for Pat Koren, Miss Rodeo America 1965, is on display as well as a custom dress that resembles the tiara made for Amy Wilson, Miss Rodeo America 2008. The collection is a tribute to every young lady that has represented her state as each has dedicated themselves to the promotion and continuation of Professional Rodeo.

“We value our relationship with the PRCA and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, it is an honor to be included as part of this premier rodeo organization and to be celebrated through this exhibit,” Raeana Wadhams, Miss Rodeo America Inc., Executive Director said.

Miss Rodeo America Inc., is the organizing body of the Miss Rodeo America Pageant, which is held in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The 2010 Miss Rodeo America pageant will be held at The Orleans Hotel & Casino, Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2009. Nearly 30 young ladies will be vying for the title of Miss Rodeo America 2010, where they will be judged on horsemanship, personality, appearance, rodeo knowledge and presentation. Tickets will be available next month at

Miss Rodeo America Inc. is an organization developed in 1955 striving to provide a quality Miss Rodeo America competition, enrich the lives of contestants and each year select a qualified young lady as Miss Rodeo America to serve as a goodwill ambassador promoting the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Western traditions.

(Information courtesy of Miss Rodeo America)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ruby - July's Birthstone

The Ruby is the red variety of the second hardest natural mineral known to mankind: corundum. Although pure corundum is virtually colorless, trace amounts of chromium result in the Ruby’s red color. Other elements, such as iron will result in different colors, but all these varieties are referred to as sapphires. Only the red variety is eligible to be called Ruby.

Like other gemstones, Rubies are formed by intense heat and pressure beneath the Earth over millions of years. Interestingly enough, the chromium within the corundum tends to cause cracks within the crystalline structure. These cracks make it very difficult to find Rubies larger than about 3 carats. Consequently, larger Rubies, as well as those with minimal inclusions bring some of the highest prices paid of any gemstones in the world.


Rubies have been prized stones for thousands of years. The finest Rubies are considered to come from Burma, but other important sources include Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Madagascar, Brazil, Afghanistan, Ceylon and Vietnam. Rubies of varying quality are found in many other places in the world, including the United States.

Hindus considered the Ruby to be the king of all gemstones, believing that they lit up the homes of the gods. In fact, reference to the Ruby has been found in Indian literature for more than two thousand years. In mythology, the Ruby was the gemstone chosen as an offering to the Hindu deity Krishna. The Ruby is also the most often named gemstone in the Christian Bible. And in the Middle Ages, the stone was thought to darken when you were in danger, warning and guarding against evil, and giving its wearer the ability to then make clear decisions.

The name Ruby was derived from the Latin word 'rubens', meaning 'red'. What better name for a such a vibrant and prized stone who's fiery, blood-red color represents the embodiment of life for mankind?


The classic Ruby, with its deep, rich red has been treasured through the ages. After all, what other color better embodies the feelings of love, passion and power? It’s no wonder that Dorothy wore Ruby slippers on her way to meet the Wizard in L. Frank Baum ‘s The Wizard of Oz.

Bearing a Mohs' Hardness rating of 9, the Ruby is the second hardest substance known to mankind, though the Diamond is nearly four times harder. Since the color of the Ruby is its most important characteristic, most inclusions do not affect the quality of the stone, but rather help create the rays which leave us with our mouths open. The Ruby is also the birthstone for the month of July and is used to celebrate the fifteenth, fortieth and eightieth wedding anniversaries. It's also an alternate for the sixtieth wedding anniversary. If your birthday is in the month of July, consider a ruby birthstone ring or pendant with the gemstones of your choice, including a beautiful, deep red Ruby.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2009 South Dakota High School Rodeo Association Queen crowned

South Dakota High School Rodeo Champ
Kourtney Hauge, from White Lake, South Dakota has been crowned the 2009 South Dakota High School Rodeo Queen. This year’s South Dakota State Finals were held June 24 – 28 in Belle Fourche and Kourtney came away with saddle shown at left (photo compliments of The Daily Republic).

Kourtney was also crowned Rodeo Queen in 2008. Good job Kourtney!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 Independence Day Celebration at Mount Rushmore

Rushmore fireworks
America’s birthday party is sure to be another big one, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial will celebrate this Independence Day with one of the largest Fourth of July fireworks displays in the country. Taking place on July 3rd, the twelfth annual event will include a half hour choreographed display of spectacular fireworks which will include over 5,200 firework artillery shells. Also planned for the event will be entertainment, music, historic re-enactments and even ceremonial military aircraft fly-overs.

The gold in The Hills is going to shimmer and sparkle during this memorable display!

So click here to be sure you're wearing your Black Hills Gold jewelry!

“The fireworks and events of the weekend put an exclamation point on what, for many, is the classic all-American family vacation,” said Richard Benda, secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development. “It is truly our privilege to host this event in such a beautiful and historic place as the Black Hills.”

“The sight of fireworks lighting the night sky above Mount Rushmore is an experience that stays with people for a lifetime,” said Diana Saathoff, executive director for the Mount Rushmore Memorial Society. “You can see in the faces of young and old alike the awe of the scene and the incredible sense of patriotism it inspires.”

In 2008, about 30,000 people attended the annual celebration while more than 53 million viewers watched the fireworks display on television.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blog Readers get 15% Discount on Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry!

From time to time we come across exceptional values in Black Hills Gold, and right now is offering one.

Just use coupon code: blogsale during checkout and get an instant 15% discount on every piece of Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry, available only for our blog readers.

Just click the coupon or follow this link to and select your favorite items at your special price. Discount ends Monday, April 22nd. Remember, just use the coupon code: blogsale on Line 5 during checkout and get your special Blog-Readers 15% discount.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Smokey Quartz - June’s Birthstone

Smokey Quartz
Today more than ever people tend to forgo tradition in favor of personal flair, and when it comes to choosing a birthstone, that trend is evident. Because there are various kinds of birthstones - modern birthstones, traditional birthstones, mystical birthstones, different birthstones for different cultures - people who do not like the looks of their birthstone certainly have a choice. This is clearly true for the month of June, for which a number of birthstones have been claimed. According to the American National Association of Jewelers, Alexandrite has been the regarded the official birthstone for June since 1912. But Pearl, Moonstone and even Opal have been named June birthstones as well. And more recently, Smokey Quartz has become a popular choice.

Alexandrite was named after the Russian czar Alexander II, it’s discovery supposedly occurring in the Ural Mountains of Russia on either the day of his birth, or his coming of age. Alexandrite is a variety of the mineral Chrysoberyl, a very hard and rare gemstone. So rare, in fact, that genuine Alexandrite is very scarce and hardly ever used in modern jewelry making.

Consequently, either synthetic Alexandrite or alternate genuine gemstones such as Smokey Quartz, which resemble Alexandrite, are typically used as the birthstone for the month of June.

Smokey Quartz is a translucent brown quartz that, because of its peculiar faceted cuts, is often found in rock shops and used in the creation of ornamental figurines and jewelry. One of the sources of natural Smokey Quartz happens to be nearby in the Pikes Peak area of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Throughout history, the abundance of quartz has led to its use as alternate for more expensive gemstones. Because of its wide variety of colors and types, quartz has become a favorite of jewelry designers. Rose Quartz, Tiger Eye, Rock Crystal and Smokey Quartz are but a few of the varieties commonly selected for their affordable price. Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness of 7 and a unique trigonal crystal system, quartz is a spectacular stone. Alexandrite, and therefore Smokey Quartz is used to celebrate the 55th wedding anniversary and is used as an alternate for the 15th wedding anniversary, while Smokey Quartz itself is used as an alternate for the 70th wedding anniversary.

If your birthday is in June, consider a Black Hills Gold Birthstone Ring with Smokey Quartz for the month of June, from Landstroms!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Emerald - May’s Birthstone

One of the most intense of all the gemstones is the Emerald. Like Aquamarine, the Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl. However, it’s the trace amounts of chromium when combined with iron that give the Emerald its fantastic, radiant green color.

As is the case with most crystalline gemstones, Emeralds are formed by intense heat and pressure beneath the Earth over millions of years. Though Emeralds are believed to be among the oldest gemstones in the world, it’s only in the last 4000 years that they have become valued.


Most of the world’s emeralds have typically come from Egypt. The Pharaohs of Egypt are the first people that exploited the use of Emeralds. For thousands of years Emeralds were mined in the desert south of Cairo at the famous Cleopatra mines, which got their name from Cleopatra’s intense love of the gems.

However, the name Emerald actually comes from an ancient Persian word, translated to Latin as “smaragdus” which eventually over time was corrupted to “emerald.”

It wasn’t until the 1600’s when Spanish Conquistadors conquered the Muzo Indians of Columbia in South America that Egypt’s control over the Emerald trade was challenged. The Spaniards had seen breathtaking Emeralds like none before and quickly forced the Indians into slavery mining the gems for the royalty of Europe. Today, Columbia dominates the Emerald trade, setting the standards for color and size against which all others are compared.

Emeralds have been prized as a symbol of love and eternal youth and have been said to provide the ability to tell the future and bring goodness into one’s life. Aristotle claimed that an Emerald amulet would prevent epilepsy. But throughout history, Emeralds have been valued simply for the beauty of their intense green color.


Throughout history, Emeralds have been prized by the famous as well as infamous. Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne and Queen Elizabeth II all coveted the green stone. And in more recent years, celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor all had prized collections.

Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of 7.5 to 8, the Emerald is quite hard and thus resists scratches. Unlike other beryls however, Emeralds commonly contain flaws, called inclusions. These flaws are mostly overlooked because there is a large trade in imitation emeralds and such inclusions are evidence that the stone is natural. The Emerald is also the birthstone for the month of May and is used to celebrate both the twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries. Many consider an Emerald Mothers Birthstone Ring, as Mother’s Day is also in May.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Diamond - April's Birthstone

Everyone is familiar with April’s birthstone, the Diamond, so where do we begin? Well, how are they formed? Diamonds are formed by intense heat and pressure acting on carbon atoms over millions of years. These carbon atoms come from either trapped carbon dioxide gas or from the melting of pre-existing rocks deep (at least 75 miles) beneath the earth’s crust. Over time volcanic forces push the diamonds to the earth’s surface revealing the intensely clear cubic crystal structure. Scientists believe that the oldest diamonds are somewhere around 3 billion years old.

But not all diamonds are clear. In fact some of the most valuable diamonds have colors ranging from pink to blue, and most colors in between. During formation, intrusion of atoms of nitrogen, boron and phosphorous creates colored diamonds; nitrogen and boron causing the yellow and blue color, respectively. However, given that the diamond is the most transparent of all known solid and liquid substances, it’s not a surprise that clear diamonds are the most popular and sought after.


It is believed that the first diamonds were discovered in India some 3000 years ago and were initially used for simple decoration because of their clear, crystalline beauty. They would soon come to be worshiped by the Greeks for being indestructible.

In fact, the word diamond comes from the Greek word, “Adamas” which means “unconquerable”.

In medieval day Kings would wear breast plates studded with diamonds because warriors feared the magical powers they believed the diamonds possessed. Diamonds were thus associated with strength, courage and invincibility, often being used as amulets and medical aids to ward off or even cure illness or injury.

However, over the centuries, the interest in diamonds began to shift from their magical properties back to their simple beauty and their timeless association with romance. It was in 1477 that the first diamond engagement ring was introduced when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy.


Throughout the years, famous diamonds have added to the legend surrounding this brilliant gemstone. The largest cut diamond in the world, The Star of Africa, 530.20 carats, was found in South Africa in 1095 but was eventually cut into 96 smaller stones. The Hope Diamond, when found, was originally 116.18 carats, but was cut to 45.52 carats for King Louis XIV of France in 1668. After being stolen in 1792, then somehow acquired by King George IV of England, it mysteriously showed up as part of Henry Thomas Hope’s gem collection in 1839. Changing hands numerous times since, it was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, where it has been ever since, leaving on only four occasions for exhibits and cleaning.

Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of a perfect 10, the Diamond is four times harder than the next hardest gemstone. The ultimate gemstone is also believed to have the strongest tensile strength and best heat conductivity of any element. The “4 C’s” refers to a diamonds “cut”, “clarity”, “color” and “carat”, each contributing to the value of any particular stone. Diamonds have found their way into every kind of jewelry imaginable. Consider owning this "ultimate gemstone" with a beautiful, Landstroms Black Hills Gold Diamond Ring, made only in America in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Blog Readers get 15% Discount on Landstroms jewelry

From time to time we come across exceptional values in Black Hills Gold, and right now is offering one.

You can use coupon code: blogsale at checkout to get an instant 15% discount on every piece of Landstroms Black Hills Gold jewelry, only available only to our blog readers.

You can click the coupon or follow this link to Black Hills Gold to select your favorite Black Hills Gold items at your special price. Discount ends Monday, March 30th. Remember to use the coupon code: blogsale on Line 5 during checkout to get your special Blog-Readers 15% discount.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Aquamarine – March’s Birthstone


Aquamarine is actually a bluish-green variety of the mineral beryl. Pure beryl is a transparent mineral consisting of aluminum and beryllium. But when iron finds its way into beryl’s crystal structure, the resulting range of colors equals that of the sea. This is the gemstone we know as Aquamarine.

In fact, the name Aquamarine is derived from the word “seawater”: 'aqua' (Latin for water) and 'mare' (Latin for sea).

With colors ranging from a pale blue to a deep sea-blue, it is the clearest, most saturated blue color of Aquamarine that is the most desired and the most valuable.


In ancient times the Aquamarine was believed to have come from a mermaid’s treasure chest and was thus considered by both the Romans and the Greeks as a lucky stone for sailors. The Romans believed the stone brought about both cheerfulness and friendliness and was considered to ensure a happy marriage as well as to promise health, prosperity and clearness of mind.


Because of its range of potentially intense colors, its scarcity of inclusions and its hardness, many jewelry designers regard the Aquamarine as their favorite gemstone. Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of 7.5 to 8, Aquamarine is quite hard, and thus resists scratches and maintains an exceptional, transparent shine. It is also the birthstone for the month of March and is used to celebrate both the sixteenth and nineteenth wedding anniversaries. The most popular cuts are the brilliant cut and the emerald cut, though many modern artistic cuts are showing up in Aquamarine jewelry in recent times.

All Landstroms Gold and Silver Black Hills Mothers Rings are available with Aquamarine gemstones.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amethyst – February’s Birthstone


Amethyst is recognized by its alluring purple color that scientists believe comes from the stones natural radioactive properties and its long pyramidal crystals combined with its elemental iron makeup. However, though always purple, Amethyst exists in a wide variety of violet shades and is known to change color both when viewed in different lighting conditions as well as when heated.


Ancient Greeks believed that the Amethyst could avert the effects of alcohol, and crushed Amethyst would even be mixed in one’s drink to accomplish this cause. Amethyst has also been thought to protect its wearer from disease, violence and anger and the stone was believed to endow its wearer with intelligence, sobriety and clear thought.Being a widely available and brilliantly colorful variety of quartz, Amethyst has been used for sculpture and jewelry throughout history. According the Greek mythology, the origin of the amethyst resides with the Greek God of wine and celebration, Dionysus (Bacchus).

Dionysus had become drunk with red wine and wished to inflict his wrath on anyone who did not engage his gifts of intoxication. Infuriated, he decided to take his wrath out on a young virgin named Amethyst. When Amethyst cried out to the goddess Diana for help, Diana quickly turned the maiden into a white, glimmering stone (quartz) so that she could not be harmed. Feeling remorse for his actions, Dionysus began to weep with sorrow, his tears dripping into his goblet of wine. As the goblet tipped and overturned, the tear-laden wine spilled onto the white rock turning it into the purple quartz we now call Amethyst.

The name Amethyst is also of Greek origin, meaning “not drunken”, from a- "not" and methyskein- "make drunk" and from methys- "wine".


In more recent times, Amethyst has served as a symbol for richness and royalty and is still believed to have soothing effects for those who suffer from addictions. It is also the birthstone for the month of February and is used to celebrate both the sixth and sometimes the fourth wedding anniversaries. Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of 7, the Amethyst is fairly hard and remains an affordable and beautiful stone that is widely available in a variety of cuts and jewelry applications. Amethyst rings, pendants and earrings are all very popular and are also available in Black Hills Gold.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Miss Rodeo South Dakota 2009 To Be Crowned

Courtney Smith, Miss Rodeo South Dakota 2009

Blackhawk, South Dakota will host the Coronation celebration for the crowing of Courtney Smith, Miss Rodeo South Dakota 2009. During the ceremony, Tara Trask , Miss Rodeo South Dakota 2008 will give her farewell speech and then present Courtney with the coveted crown.

The next stop for Courtney will be the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and then its onto 2009 Miss Rodeo America pageant held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its been a long road for Courtney but she has met the challenge with fortitude and grace, winning the categories of horsemanship, speech, appearance, personality, and the written test award.

Courtney is the daughter of Tom and Deanna Smith of Rapid City and we wish to congratulate both Courtney and her parents on her achievement. Great job Courtney! And good luck in Las Vegas!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Garnet – January’s Birthstone

This first in a series of twelve short essays on birthstones is devoted to the Garnet, January’s Birthstone.


The Garnet is typically recognized by its deep, rusty-red color but there are actually over 29 known varieties of them. While they all have essentially the same cubic crystalline structure, the different types of Garnets vary in chemical makeup and other physical properties resulting in colors that range across the spectrum. While it’s true that the deep red variety is the most commonly occurring, the color of Garnet can range from earth tones to yellow, orange, red and even vibrant green, such as the brilliant Tsavorite. Because of these chemical and physical properties, the only color that Garnets are not available in is blue.


The mythology of the Garnet can be traced back to ancient Greece where it was believed that Garnets held many special powers. The Romans associated the Garnet with Mars, the god of war. Warriors throughout the ages believed that the Garnet could inflict mortal wounds on their enemies and also protect its bearer from illness and peril. And it is believed that Noah used a lantern made of Garnet to safely steer his ark through the darkness of night.

The name Garnet is derived from the name of the pomegranate fruit, the Latin term being “granatus”, meaning “seed”. Garnets resemble the seeds of a pomegranate and in nature are typically found in clusters, as are the pomegranate seeds.Garnets

Further reference to the pomegranate can be found in the Greek myth of Persephone, the maiden daughter of Zeus. The myth says that Persephone was abducted by Hades, ruler of the underworld. Zeus dispatched Hermes to return her, but by the time she was rescued, she had eaten the sweet seeds of the pomegranate, obligating her to spend the winter months with her new husband, Hades. Persephone’s return to Hades caused the winter to arrive for three months. In the spring, when Persephone rises up to be with her mother, the seasonal growth cycle of plants begins. This annual, eternal, devoted return is associated with deep love and so the gift of pomegranate seeds, or the Garnet, represents a gift of love.


Today, the Garnet still maintains its ancient lore and is used to celebrate the second wedding anniversary. It is also the birthstone for the month of January and is therefore a favorite of Aquarians and Capricorns. But the Garnet is an exceptional choice for year-round use by all. Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of between 7 and 7.5, the Garnet is fairly hard and resistant to everyday wear and tear.

And though it is somewhat susceptible to impact fracture, the garnet lends itself well to use in Garnet rings, Garnet pendants and Garnet earrings, which also make very sensible, attractive and popular gifts.