From birthstones to pearls, gemstones are the most cherished because of their diverse colors, durability and full luster. They may look like ordinary rocks in their rough state, but once they are skillfully cut and polished, they are bold, bright and absolutely breath-taking. There are two classifications of gemstones – precious and semi-precious. The gems we recognize today as precious gems are diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Semi-precious gems refer to all gems other than these.
Found in geodes, sparkling amethyst crystals range in color from pale lilac to an intense purple. Amethyst are cherished for its breathtaking shades of purple, and the way it effortlessly complements warm colors like white and yellow metals settings. For many years, the majestic amethyst gemstone was held up to same standards as a diamond. It is the symbolism behind the stone along with its vivid color and beauty that makes it such a desirable stone.
The aqua marine gemstone has a sparkling ocean-like color that contributes to its name which derives from two Latin words: aqua meaning “water,” and marina meaning “of the sea.” From blue to a light greenish blue, aqua marine is a color variety of one of the most important gem minerals called beryl just like emeralds. Its hypnotizing transparent blue color seemingly fit well with different metals and accent stones.
Citrine is the transparent, pale yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz. Citrine derives from the French word citron which means lemon. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of its zesty lemon-inspired shades that come from traces of iron. It’s perhaps the most popular and frequently purchased yellow gemstone and an attractive alternative for topaz as well as for yellow sapphire.
The diamond, made up of carbon, is the hardest gemstone reaching a 10 on Mohs Hardness scale. It is 58 times harder than any other mineral found in nature. A diamond’s resilience and incomparable luster when cut and polished are one of the many reasons it is so desirable. Though diamonds are known for their colorless sparkle and overall purity, they are also produced in an array of vibrant colors ranging from pink to black. The more saturated the color, the higher the value.
Like aquamarine, emeralds are a part of the beryl family and is the most valued of them all. The soothing yet intense green color can range from a light green to a bold green. The deeper the green, the more valuable it is. Because its density is lower, a one-carat emerald will appear larger in size than a one-carat diamond. It is customary for a number of treatments to be used on emeralds in order to enhance its color, clarity and durability due to the rarity and limited access of high quality emeralds.
Closely resembling the beautiful deep red hue of pomegranate seeds, the garnet gemstone is often associated with its deep red hue. The most common misconception about garnets is that the gemstone is only produced in an array of reds from rust colored to deep violet-red. However, in actuality, garnet is the name used for a large group of rock-forming minerals that come in a rich palette of colors, from burgundy red to light, translucent green. Out of all the garnet colors, the rarest are blue, colorless and changing colors in different lights.
The onyx gemstone is a variety of a solid black microcrystalline quartz, called chalcedony, which range from white-colored stones to black. These days, Black Onyx stones are available in pure black, as they are heated and polished. In its solid black form, Onyx is the most traditional black gemstone. It is a gemstone with a waxy dull luster and is typically opaque.
Pearls are the only gemstones formed within a living organism, making them the most organic gemstones. Pretty much any shelled mollusk (or clam) can produce a pearl, but just two types of bivalve clams can produce rich creamy-colored, opalescent pearls that are valued in the jewelry industry. Pearls are formed naturally by tiny irritants that enter the bodies of the mollusk. Alternatively, pearl farmers can purposefully plant a bead or piece of tissue that the mollusk coats with nacre (mother-of-pearl).
Peridot is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. Peridot is available in several colors ranging from yellowish green to brown, but the bright lime greens and olive greens are the most desired. If you prefer citrus tones or earth tones, this the ideal gemstone for you.
Known for its fiery red color, the ruby gemstone has been nicknamed “the gem of precious stones” as it can command the highest per-carat price of any other colored stone. The combination of a ruby’s color, durability and historical significance truly makes it one of the most precious stones on the market. There are a small number of rubies that grow large enough to crystallize into quality gems can exceed the price of a diamond that is the same size. Not only is the ruby scarce, but it is also extremely tough, measuring a 9 on the Mohs scale: Diamonds are the only gemstones harder than rubies.
Sapphires are usually associated with the royal blue variety of this gem, but it actually produced in a rainbow of hues. The royal gem can come in any color except red because then it would classified as a ruby. Interestingly enough, pink sapphires walk a fine line between a ruby and a sapphire. As of today, Madagascar leads the world in sapphire production; although these gems can also be found in many other countries, it’s their origin that can affect their value as much as color, cut, clarity, and carat size.
Orange, yellow, and brown are just some of the common warm hues that people associate with topaz. However, the lustrous topaz gemstone has an exceptionally wide color range, far beyond yellow. To take on various tones and saturations of any color in the rainbow, it is often treated or tinted by impurities. Colorless topaz treated to blue is a mass-market gem which is fairly abundant and affordably priced even at large sizes. It’s the fine pink-to-red, purple, or orange gems that are one-of-a-kind pieces.
Tourmaline gems typically come in a wide range of hues and color combinations. Tourmalines come in shades like blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, yellow, brown, black, and even colorless. Part-colored tourmaline is the proper term for a tourmaline stone that displays a combination of colors. The most common mix is green and pink which is often cut into slices to expose a red center with a green rim, rightly earning the name “watermelon tourmaline.”
Turquoise is a collective of microcrystals, and when the microcrystals are packed closely together, the turquoise has greater durability, and polishes to a higher luster that many people describe as "waxy." It is colored by copper, which creates some of the most vivid blues and greens in gems. The colors of this stone range from different shades of green to a bright sky blue called “robin’s-egg” blue. It is the vibrant color and rich history of the turquoise gemstone that makes it so well known, so characteristic, and so impressive.