Gemstone Glossary

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Gemstone Glossary

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Abalone Shell
  • A colorful mollusk shell that has a mother-of-pearl lining. Abalone shell can come in a wide variety of colors, including combinations of green, purple, black, white, brown and pink.
Agate
  • A type of chalcedony quartz with a hard outer shell and a banded colorful center. Agate is generally handled in Germany, but can be found in South America and the western U.S. The stone has a medium 6.5 to 7 rating on the Mohs Scale, so it must be handled carefully to avoid scratches or chips. The agate is said to provide protection, encourage strength, and bring harmony to your life.
Alexandrite
  • A very rare and pricey gemstone that has the ability to change color. Depending on various lighting conditions, the gem can appear red or purple indoors while it seems to be green outside. Alexandrite is a form of chrysoberyl and has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs Hardness Sale, making it extremely durable in jewelry. Alexandrite is one of June's alternative birthstones.
Amazonite
  • A light to blueish-green variety of feldspar that is named for the Amazon River (even though it isn't found there). It can be found around the world, but Amazonite is mostly located near Pike's Peak in Colorado. With a soft rating of 5 to 6 on the Mohs Scale, it should be handled with care. The gemstone is said to provide confidence and a sense of hope to the beholder.
Amethyst
  • A quartz gemstone that ranges in color from clear purple to bluish violet. Amethyst is February's birthstone and is said to bring the wearer luck, constancy and protect against magic. Amethyst rates 7 on the Mohs hardness scale making it an excellent gemstone for everyday wear.
Ametrine
  • A variety of quartz where yellow or orange citrine and purple amethyst occur together the same crystal. Ametrine is mainly mined in Bolivia and is fairly durable with a hardiness of 7 on the Mohs Scale. Legend says Ametrine can enhance mental and physical wellness, as well as intuition and creativity.
Aquamarine
  • A bluish, semi- precious gemstone from the beryl family. The name translates to "water of the sea" because of its color, which can actually range from very pale blue to a blue-green teal. The most prized color is a deep blue aqua. With a 7 to 8 rating on the Mohs Hardness Scale, the gem is very hardy. As March's birthstone, the aquamarine is said to bring courage and happiness to the wearer, reduce anxiety, and acts as a talisman to protect sailors.
Aventurine
  • Although it's most popular color is the green variety, Aventurine comes in several colors including brown, orange, and yellow. Aventurine is a form of quartz that is said to encourage enthusiasm and optimism.
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Bead
  • A gemstone or charm with a hole drilled through the middle so that it can be slid onto a bracelet.
Beryl
  • Beryl is type of mineral with many varieties that are distinguished by their color. With a rating of 7-8 on the Mohs scale, beryl is perfect for use in jewelry. Popular types of beryl include emerald and aquamarine.
Biolemon
  • A type of quartz with a smoky, lemon to brown color generally used in accent beads. Also referred to as Bio Lemon.
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Carnelian
  • A type of red, orange, or brown quartz that is sometimes variegated or striated and has a rating of 6 to 7 on the Mohs Scale. Carnelian has often been used to carve cameos and is an alternate birthstone for July.
Cat's-Eye
  • A polished gemstone that displays Chatoyancy, a glowing, band of light down the center of a gemstone, resembling a cat's eye.
Chalcedony
  • A subgroup of quartz composed of silica with minute crystals of quartz and moganite that is translucent or milky in appearance. Found worldwide and in a huge range of color, specific varieties of chalcedony gemstones are identified and named according to their color. The term "chalcedony" when it is applied to a specific gem, implies the light blue variety. Chalcedony is said to improve vitality and health, promote generosity, and alleviate sadness or bad dreams.
Chrysoprase
  • A gemstone variety of chalcedony that contains small quantities of Nickel. It has an unusual green color that is normally apple-green but ranges to a deep green. Some people refer to Chrysoprase the stone of reincarnation because it helps people understand the meaning of life and death, and how to say and receive a farewell.
Citrine
  • A variety of quartz ranging in color from light yellow to bright orange. Citrine is a semi-precious gemstone rating a sturdy 7 on the Mohs Hardiness Scale. One of November's birthstones, it is purported to bring the wearer self confidence and light-heartedness.
Coral
  • Found in tropical oceans, coral is made from calcium carbonate. Although many coral reefs are now protected, fossilized coral may be used in jewelry. Coral may also refer to a orange-pink color.
Corundum
  • With a Mohs scale rating of 9, Corundum is the second hardest mineral, second to diamond. Ruby and Sapphire are the most popular gem varieties of Corundum.
Crystal
  • Crystals are the transparent form of crystallized quartz. They can come in many different colors and sizes. Very durable in jewelry, crystal can also be used to make figurines and stemware.
Cubic Zirconia
  • A man-made jewel that closely resembles a diamond. Cubic Zirconia is formed in the lab from zirconium dioxide and is hard, flawless, generally colorless, and inexpensive alternatives to diamonds.
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Diamond
  • This popular and sought-after gemstone is composed of carbon. Diamonds can be found in a variety of colors, from colorless to yellow, brown, and even black. Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on earth and rate a 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Diamond is also known as April's birthstone.
Doublet
  • A method of improving gemstone durability or enhancing the visual impact by sandwiching a more valuable gemstone with either colored glass or a stone of lesser value. A thin layer of the valuable gemstone is adhered to the top and sometimes the bottom while the glass or lesser stone provides the necessary bulk beneath.
Drusy
  • A drusy is a gemstone with a mineral surface that is comprised of micro-crystal facets. They can come in a variety of colors, are fairly durable, and are thought to bring the wearer positive energy.
Dumortierite
  • Named after French paleontologist Eugene Dumortier, Dumortierite can be found in shades of light to dark blue and has a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale. A very durable gemstone, Dumortierite is considered to be a stone of expression, order, and peace.
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Emerald
  • Probably the most expensive gemstone, this member of the beryl family can be valued higher than diamonds. Ranging in color from pure green to blue-green, the more vivid the tone, hue, and color consistency, the better the stone. Emeralds are the rare exception to the rule that inclusions are bad. In fact, gemologists use these flaws as evidence of the gem's authenticity. The gem's center should be as flawless as possible, however. Many stones are treated to mask the natural imperfections. Emeralds rate a solid 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale, making them an excellent choice for jewelry. As May's birthstone, the emerald is said to offer the wearer protection from evil spirits, provide the gift of eloquence, and arouse both the intellect and the heart.
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Garnet
  • A mineral found in almost every color, except blue. Deep, vivid red is the most common color of this group of semi-precious gems. Garnet crystals are usually round and have a 7 to 7.5 rating on the Mohs Hardness Scale. As January's birthstone, the garnet is said to bring commitment, love, and devotion to the wearer.
Glass
  • Durable and versatile, glass jewelry can come in any color and can be molded into any shape.
Granite
  • An igneous rock with at least 20% quartz and up to 65% alkali feldspar. The word "granite" comes from the Latin word for "grain" because of it's course grain-like composition. Granite can come in many different colors including: white, pink, gray, yellow and even green.
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Hematite
  • A very common mineral formed from iron ore. Also known as the Bloodstone, color ranges from black to brown to bright red and includes a rusty red streak. Hematite's signature red color contains the pigment "red ochre" used in cave paintings and is believed to be responsible for the planet Mar's distinctive red hue. Although harder than iron with a Mohs rating of 5.5 to 6.5, the gem is sometimes brittle. The stone is found in tombs and was worn as a symbol of mourning but is also thought to aid healing and improve courage and optimism.
Hyacinth Garnet
  • Newly discovered royal purple Hyacinth Garnet is another of the very rare East African gems that have been found in the last 50 years. Just like the lovely flower, garnets are available in many colors. Included in the most valuable garnet colors are light green, vivid green, orange, yellow, pink, and now Hyacinth Garnet in vivid Royal Purple. Discovered in 2015, Hyacinth Garnet has a Mohs scale of hardness of 7 -7.5 and a stunning deep purple color.
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Iolite
  • A unique, transparent mineral that when cut, can appear to be violet blue, yellowish gray or light blue depending on the angle. The deeper the shade of violet blue, the better is the cut. Iolite is often free of visible inclusions and rates a grade of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Also known as the Water Sapphire, Iolite is said to bring the wearer spiritual incite as well as the ability to see both sides of an issue.
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Jade
  • One of two metamorphic rocks composed of different silicate minerals, Nephite or Jadeite. The two are quite similar in appearance but Jadite, because of its intensity of color, translucency, and rarity (only found in Myanmar), is more valuable and considered the imperial or "true" jade. Jade color ranges from its premier hue, emerald green, to mottled green, pink, yellow, black, and white. With a 6.5 to 7 Mohs scale rating, jade is of moderate hardiness. A suggested gift for the 12th, 30th, and 35th anniversaries, jade is said to promote healing and longevity, symbolize love and virtue, and bring about wealth and humility.
Jasper
  • Meaning "spotted or speckled stone", jasper is comprised of quartz, chalcedony, and other minerals. Found in shades of red, yellow, brown or green and sometimes blue, jasper has a hardness of 6.5 - 7 on the Mohs scale and is said to provide comfort, strength, and healing to it's wearer.
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Labradorite
  • A variety of translucent feldspar which displays strong iridescent colors including vivid yellow, blue, aqua, red, green and orange when tilted to reflect light. Originally discovered in the Labrador Province of Canada, the stone is also found in Russia, India, and Madagascar. Labradorite is fairly soft, rating a 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. The gemstone is thought to bring good luck, increase vitality and strength, and reduce stress.
Lapis
  • A blue composite mineral, often containing sulphur, calcite, and pyrite (fool's gold) that is usually striped or spotted. The purest blue specimens are more highly prized as are samples exhibiting veins of pyrite. A soft stone rating 5 to 6 on the Mohs Scale, gems may be adversely affected by hot temperatures or acids. As one of December's birthstones, Lapis is thought to promote creativity and awareness, act as a sleep aid and aphrodisiac, and counteract fear and jealousy.
Larimar
  • Found only in the Dominican Republic, this lovely blue stone resembles the incredible blue colors of the Caribbean sea. Officially found in 1974 by Miguel Méndez, Larimar is named for "Larissa" (Méndez's daughter) and the Spanish word for sea, “mar”. Thought to have healing powers and assist in effective communication, Larimar can be found in shades of blue, blue-green, and can even have white or brown hematite throughout the stone.
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Mabe Pearl
  • A type of pearl that is formed when an impurity is placed against the mollusk shell instead of within tissue. The resulting pearl is shaped like a hemisphere with one side being rounded and the other being flat. Naturally occurring mabe pearls are very rare and are generally cultured.
Magnesite
  • A mineral formed from magnesium carbonate that is fairly brittle, with a hardness of 3.5 to 4.5 on the Mohs Scale. Color ranges from colorless, to white, to pale yellow, to light pink. The high magnesium component causes fluorescence under certain lighting conditions. Magnesite is said to bring inner peace, build strong bones and teeth, and enhance imagination.
Malachite
  • Named after it's resemblance to the green leaves of the mallow plant, Malachite has a lovely swirling green color, varying from rich forest green, to light green. With a Mohs scale rating of 3-4, Malachite is very malleable.
Marcasite
  • Pyrite, a cubic crystallization of iron sulphite with a hardness of 6.5 Mohs scale and a specific gravity of 5.1, is known as Marcasite in the jewelry world. Marcasite is known for its bright metallic luster and only a few varieties are suitable for cutting for use in jewelry.
Melanite
  • A species of the garnet group, Melanite is a glossy black in color and has a rating of 6.5-7.0 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Moonstone
  • A gemstone that belongs to the large mineral group of feldspars. Moonstone comes in several different colors, most common is a transparent milky white. It is said to provide strength and a sense of peace. Moonstone has a rating of 6.0 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Morganite
  • Available in a variety of pink and peachy hues, morganite was originally known as "pink beryl". Morganite is said to evoke a sense of peace, joy, and inner strength.
Mother of Pearl
  • The hard, iridescent blend of minerals coating the inside shell of certain large mollusks. Mother of pearl is an organic, luminescent, somewhat fragile gem that should be worn with care and can come in multiple shades.
Mt. St. Helens Emerald Obsidianite
  • This gemstone is created using the volcanic ash and rock dust resulting from the eruption of Mt St Helens on May 18, 1980. The brilliant green color is the most recognized and sought after color. A Swiss blue color can also be created by adding trace minerals.
Multi-Stone
  • A type of jewelry where multiple gemstones are clustered together, creating the illusion of one large, center stone.
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Obsidian
  • A glassy type of stone that forms when volcanic lava is cooled rapidly. Although it is normally black in color, this stone can also come in shades of brown, gold, or even white. Archeological studies show that it was once used to make weapons and even mirrors.
Onyx
  • A finely textured quartz mineral or chalcedony. Generally thought of as being solid black, onyx actually ranges in color from white to black and may display white band or ribbons. With a rating of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs Scale, it is an excellent stone for carving and is often used in cameos. As the Mystical birthstone for December, Onyx is a talisman against depression, improves happiness and instinct, and can help the wearer to change bad habits.
Opal
  • A luminous, iridescent, semi-precious gemstone that often exhibits multi-colored flashes of light when viewed from different angles. With a rating of 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, opals are somewhat fragile and should be treated with care. Heat can lead to evaporation and cracking so opal jewelry is best stored in moist, absorbent cotton in a cool location. As October's birthstone, the Opal promotes faithfulness and inner beauty, improves vision, and allows the wearer to recall past lives.
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Pearl
  • An organic gem formed when a mollusk secretes a protective calcium carbonate based substance around an irritant, placed naturally or by man, inside the shell. The building of this protective coating, called nacre, can take 7 to 8 years. Color ranges from white to black and includes shades of pink, green and blue. More valuable pearls are naturally produced, round, lustrous, and symmetrical. With a weak rating of 3 to 4 on the Mohs Scale, pearls must be treated kindly, avoiding contact with perfume, perspiration and hair spray, and removing jewelry for strenuous activity. As June's birthstone, pearls promote wisdom, wealth, good luck, and love; protect children; and improve Karma.
Peridot
  • A yellow-green to olive green, semi-precious gemstone, also known as chrysolite, olivine, and the evening emerald. Peridot is usually transparent with few inclusions. With a rating of 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale, the stone can burst under intense stress and is often protected by metal in jewelry. As August's birthstone, the peridot is said to drive away evil spirits, aid healing, and protect the wearer.
Prasiolite
  • Prasiolite is the green variety of Amethyst. The meaning of the name comes from the Greek word meaning 'leek', as it resembles the plant's green color.
Prehnite
  • An extremely rare gemstone generally found in close contact with volcanic rock. Prehnite is primarily a pale green color however, it can range to a deep shade of green as well. It has also been found in pastel shades of blue, grey, white, yellow and almost transparent. It has a pearly glasslike luster and it said to have a calming effect. Prehnite has a rating of 6.0-6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.
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Quartz
  • The most abundant and varied of all minerals on earth. Pure quartz is clear and colorless but it is also found in a vast array of colors. Many well known gemstones are actually varieties of quartz that are separated by color or banding differences. Types of quartz include amethyst, citrine, onyx, agate, and chalcedony. Because of the clarity of crystals, the hardness (rating a 7 on the Mohs Scale), and the large availability, quartz is an excellent alternative to more expensive gemstones. Quartz is said to be an extremely powerful gemstone metaphysically, being beneficial in protection, healing, and promoting clarity and purity of spirit and body.
Quartzite
  • This gemstone is composed of metamorphic sandstone. Harder than quartz, it can be very durable when used in jewelry.
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Rhodolite Garnet
  • A type of garnet that ranges in color from rose red to pale violet. Stones with a strong purple or pink hue are the most valued. Often mistaken for ruby, rhodolite is sometimes referred to as a Cape Ruby. Rhodolite garnets glitter brilliantly due to their high refractive index. It is a hardy stone, rating 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale. As a garnet, it is also considered to be January's birthstone. The gem is ascribed with the ability to protect travelers, ward off evil, and promote self healing.
Rhodonite
  • A gemstone with a rosy pink to brownish red and gray color. Many rhodonite stones have inclusions of black manganese oxide in them, which lends the stone a dark black swirl. A ?5.5 - 6.5 on Mohs hardness scale, this gemstone is said to help with one's love life and bring emotional stability.
Ruby
  • Red corundum ranging in color from deep red to pink to brownish hues. Extremely valuable rubies are transparent and vivid or "pigeon's blood" red, display florescence in daylight, and often originate from Myanmar. Rating a 9 on the Mohs Scale, the ruby is second only to the diamond in toughness. Inclusions are common in natural rubies which do not display cleavage. As July's birthstone, rubies symbolize freedom, divinity, royalty, wisdom, and spirituality. Rubies are also said to inspire love, courage, confidence, and creativity.
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Sapphire
  • Any color of corundum except red. (Rubies are red corrundum.) Vivid, transparent blue is the most rare and prized color. Stones from Kashmir or Burma are often fine quality and are highly coveted. As with rubies, some cabochon cut stones exhibit a cat's eye or 6-rayed star. With a rating of 9 on the Mohs Scale, sapphires are extremely durable and ideal for jewelry. As September's birthstone, the sapphire protects against witchcraft, fraud and envy; makes peace between enemies; and incurs God's favor. The stone symbolizes truth, love, wisdom and generosity.
Sodalite
  • Named after its high sodium content, Sodalite is most popular in its blue color. It is known to bestow the wearer with logic, rationality, and efficiency.
Spinel
  • A mineral species belonging to the spinel group of minerals. Spinel comes in many colors, usually various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, brown or black. It has a 7.5-8.0 rating on the Mohs hardness scale.
Spinel
  • A mineral species belonging to the spinel group of minerals. Spinel comes in many colors, usually various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, brown or black. It has a 7.5-8.0 rating on the Mohs hardness scale.
Swarovski Crystals
  • Swarovski Crystals are a type of lead glass that has been cut to catch the light. Swarovski crystal can be used in jewelry as well as figurines.
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Tanzanite
  • A modern day mineral discovered in 1967 in Tanzania. When mined, specimens appear dusty brown but upon being heated, become a spectacular royal blue or lavender. Faceted stones are usually fee of inclusions. Earning a grade of 6.5 to 7.0 on the Mohs Scale, the gemstone is moderately hardy. Recently added as an alternative birthstone for December, the stone has little lore surrounding it because of its newness.
Tiger's Eye
  • A fibrous quartz with distinct chatoyant, or a slit of light resembling a cat's eye, when cut as a cabochon. A favorite gemstone for men, Tiger's Eye possesses a rich brown and yellow-gold color with a silky luster. With a rating of 7 on the Mohs Scale, the stone is durable in jewelry. The gem brings the wearer good mental and physical health, achieves clarity of mind, and protects businessmen.
Topaz
  • An abundant, light-colored mineral available in virtually every color except purple. Because of its prevalence, topaz is a wonderful value. Some hues, such as pink or Imperial topaz, are more costly because they are less common. Clear topaz is more desirable because it is sometimes used as a diamond substitute. Historically, all yellow or brown gemstones were called topaz. As November's birthstone, topaz is attributed with the ability to heal and prevent mental and physical illness, improve eyesight, and even prevent death.
Tourmaline
  • A richly hued mineral available in an array of solid and multi-color variations. The gem is called by multiple names depending on the color. Single color tourmalines are rare as most crystals have more than one shade. Tourmaline can be dichroic, meaning some stones appear to change color when angled. Tourmaline is durable, rating a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale. Pink or red tourmaline is an alternative birthstone for October. Some artists and writers see the stone as a talisman that inspires creativity. It is also said to strengthen the body and soul, especially the nervous system, blood, and lymph glands.
Tsavorite
  • A variety of garnet, Tsavorite can be light to dark green and is named after Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. With a Mohs scale of 7-7.5, Tsavorite is perfect for use in jewelry.
Turquoise
  • A mineral composed of hydrated copper aluminum phosphate that ranges in color from sky blue to pale green and has a fairly low rating of 5 to 6 on the Mohs Scale. Turquoise has been considered a prized gemstone since ancient times by such geographically and historically diverse cultures as the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Persians, the Aztecs, and Native American tribes of the Southwest. As December's birthstone, turquoise is said to be a great healing stone both mentally and physically, to enhance psychic communication, and to protect travelers (physically and spiritually) from evil.
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Vernalite
  • Also known as Chrome Diopside, this rare, natural, untreated gemstone offers unparalleled intense green colors representing the promise of spring. The world's largest deposits of Vernalite are found in the Siberian Arctic where mining only takes place after the Spring Equinox. One of the few completely untreated gemstones in the world, Vernalite can come in shades of light to dark green, yellow or white, or even dark black and has a ranking of 5-6 on the Moh's Hardness Scale.
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Zircon
  • A colorful gem with similar properties to diamond. Although zircon appears in a variety of colors, the light blue variety is the most popular and is an alternate birthstone for December.