is an organic-inorganic composite material also known as mother of pearl produced by some molluscs as an inner shell layer; it is also what makes up the outer coating of pearls. It is strong, resilient, and iridescent.
is a gemstone of the kind that might have come straight out of the Arabian Nights: a deep blue with golden inclusions of pyrites which shimmer like little stars. In South America, the Incas and other pre-Columbian cultures exploded mountainous deposits in Peru more than 8,000 years ago using it in masks, ornamentation and decoration. Lapis lazuli is also regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship and truth.
is an opaque, blue-to-green phosphate mineral of copper and aluminium. The word turquoise, which dates to the 16th century, is derived from an Old French word for "Turkish", because the mineral was first brought to Europe from Turkey, from the mines of the historical Khorasan Province of today Iran. The colour of the turquoise makes us feel happy and cheerful, for in it the light blue of the sky and the stimulating green of the sea are combined.
is a cryptocrystalline mineral consisting of fine intergrowths of the silica minerals quartz and moganite. The name comes from the Greek word 'onyx', which means nail or claw. The story tells that one day the frisky Cupid cut the divine fingernails of Venus with an arrowhead while she was sleeping. He left the clippings scattered on the sand and the Fates turned them into stone so that no part of the heavenly body would ever perish. It is believed onyx can reduce stress, remove apathy and ensure a good night's sleep.
is a mollusk that breeds in warm waters. Spondylus is found off the coast of Ecuador, and has been important to Andean peoples since pre-Columbian times, serving as offerings to the Pachamama (mother earth), as well as some kind of currency. The color of the spondylus shell can vary from white to deep purple.