Guide to Gemstones
If you love magic, you’ll love Alexandrite, also known as “the color-change gem.” In daylight, it is a cool, bluish and mossy green. In lamplight, it is a red gem with a warm raspberry tone. You can see it change color by switching from fluorescent to incandescent light. The value of the gemstone increases as the color change becomes more distinct.
It is truly spellbinding to see the spectacular changing colors in this wonderful gemstone. You might even feel some of the mysterious magic and lore ascribed to it. It’s said to strengthen intuition, aid in creativity and inspire the imagination.
This gem is exceptionally rare and valuable. Originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s, it can now be found in Sri Lanka, East Africa and Brazil.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed Amethyst would ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus and keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. For centuries, Amethyst has been associated with many myths and legends as well as religions in numerous cultures.
Not only is this gem known for its beautiful color, but it is also widely available in different shapes and sizes — which makes it more affordable. Amethyst complements both warm and cool colors, helping it look fabulous set in both yellow and white metals. This unique ability enhances almost every color in your wardrobe.
The name Aquamarine immediately brings to mind a stunning pastel sky blue or the bright color of the sea. For centuries, this timeless gemstone has been a symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity. Since this gemstone is the color of water and the sky, it is said to embody eternal life. It was long thought that Aquamarine has a soothing influence on married couples, making it a great anniversary gift.
Aquamarines are found in a range of blues, from a pale pastel to a greenish-blue to a deep color. Darker shades of blue are increasingly rare and make the value increase. Aquamarine is frequently a pastel gemstone. While the color can be more intense in larger gemstones, smaller aquamarines tend to be less vivid.
This bright shining gem is said to be a gift from the sun. The name Citrine, which is French for “lemon,” fits well with its color range of juicy yellow to a bright orange-brown. Most people choose a Citrine based on their personal preference, but some of the most sought-after Citrine gemstones have a clear, radiant yellowish to brownish red color.
In ancient times, Citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. Today, it is known as the merchant’s stone and is associated with success and prosperity.
Citrine is one of the most popular and affordable gemstones. It is relatively plentiful and available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, often serving as a big, bold statement piece.
Since ancient times, diamonds have been admired objects of desire. Formed 100 miles beneath the Earth’s surface over a billion years ago, diamonds are the hardest gem of them all. Some say diamonds were created when bolts of lightning struck rocks, while others say the gem possesses healing powers. For centuries, diamonds have been adorned by women and men and regarded as the ultimate gift and a symbol of eternal love.
Today, diamonds are still admired all around the world. Until the middle of the 20th century, there was no standard by which diamonds could be evaluated. GIA created the first and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Today, the four Cs of diamond quality are the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.
Finding the perfect diamond is not something to take lightly. Visit our Diamond Education section for tips and information on how to find the diamond that is right for you.
Green is the color of spring and has long symbolized love and rebirth. As the gem of Venus, it is also considered to aid in fertility.
Cleopatra, Egypt’s tempestuous female monarch, was as famous for wearing Emeralds as Liz Taylor is for wearing diamonds. Ancient Egyptian mummies were often buried wearing an Emerald carved with the symbol of verdure – flourishing greenness – on their necks to symbolize eternal youth.
A deeper and more vivid color of green signifies a more valuable gemstone. The most valuable and beautiful Emeralds exhibit an intense bluish hue in addition to their bold green color. Emeralds, among the rarest of gems, are almost always found with birthmarks, also known as inclusions. Some inclusions are expected and do not detract from the value of the stone as much as with other gemstones.
Fancy Color Diamonds
Fancy color diamonds are true miracles of nature. The geological conditions needed to create these colors are rare, making them scarce and highly prized. They come in pale pinks and blues, bright yellows, oranges, greens, reds and brown colors like cognac and champagne.
Fancy color diamonds are evaluated by their color intensity, unlike colorless diamonds that are graded on their fire and brilliance. Shades that are deep and distinct in color are rated more highly than light or pale shades. GIA evaluates color in terms of hue, tone and saturation. Hue refers to the diamond’s color, tone refers to the color’s lightness or darkness and saturation refers the color’s depth. Using highly controlled viewing conditions and color comparisons, a fancy color grader selects one of 27 hues, then describes tone and saturation with terms such as “Fancy Light,” “Fancy Intense” and “Fancy Vivid.” This color system was developed by GIA and is used worldwide.
Today, yellow diamonds are thought of as “traditional” and are among the most abundant of all “fancy colored” diamonds. Red, green, purple and orange diamonds are generally the rarest, followed by blue and pink.
This gem is available in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red Bohemian garnet to the vibrant greens of the Russian Demantoid and African Tsavorite. We also see it appear in the oranges and browns of Spessartite and Hessonite from Namibia and Sri Lanka and in the subtle pinks and purples of Rhododendron.
Legend says garnets light up the night and protect their owners from nightmares. Garnets have long been carried by travelers to protect against accidents far from home. Garnet may be the birthstone for January, but its stunning variety of colors has made it a gift for all occasions.
Jade has been treasured in China as the royal gemstone since at least 2950 BC. Thought to preserve the body after death, jade can be found in emperors’ tombs from thousands of years ago. To this day, many people believe that jade will protect them from harm.
Jade is known for its vivid, green color, though it also comes in lavender, pink, yellow and white. The most common shape is the flat, donut-shaped disc called a pi, which is commonly worn as a necklace. Wearing a stunning piece of jade jewelry is sure to make anyone green with envy.
Known to man as early as 400 BC, Lapis Lazuli has been a treasured gemstone for millennia. Used to create the beautiful ocean blues and vibrant sky blues in paintings during the Renaissance, Lapis Lazuli is a colored gemstone that has been revered for centuries.
Its name means “blue stone” and could not be more accurate. Lapis Lazuli is a dark blue microcrystalline rock that often sparkles with golden pyrite inclusions. This stunning gem is reminiscent of the stars in the midnight sky. Lapis Lazuli was also thought to be a strong medicine. The Romans believed this gem to be a powerful aphrodisiac. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to keep the limbs healthy and to free the soul from error, envy and fear. Once you cast your sights on this gem, you’re sure to be entranced by its beauty.
Ancient Romans believed this shimmering rock was formed from frozen moonlight, giving it the name Moonstone. Its color ranges from colorless to gray, brown, yellow, green and pink, while its clarity ranges from transparent to translucent. The best Moonstone has a blue sheen, perfect clarity and a colorless body color. Found in India and Madagascar, rainbow Moonstones have a variety of colors, including pink, yellow, peach, purple and blue.
Fine Moonstone is quite rare and becoming rarer. We’ve searched the ends of the earth to find some of the world’s most stunning Moonstone.
With its dazzling brilliance and soft colors of clear pink, peach and hot fuchsia, it’s no wonder Morganite is known as the stone of divine love. The delicate pink gem promotes love and prosperity.
With shades of pink dominating the fashion industry, Morganite is a favorite for women of all ages. Coming in pinks from subtle lavenders to bright fuchsias and even pastel pink apricot blends, Morganite exudes charm and tenderness. Its mass appeal is due to its versatile pink colors that complement all skin tones and can be set in white or yellow gold.
Today, when we think of Onyx, we often preface the word with black to distinguish it from other varieties. This gem comes in white, reddish brown, brown and banded. A variety of Onyx that is reddish brown with white and lighter reddish bands is known as sardonyx.
Black never goes out of style, which is why you can never go wrong with black Onyx. Its appealing rich black color can be both classic and contemporary.
In ancient times, the Opal was known as the queen of gems because it encompassed the colors of all other gems. Each Opal is truly one-of-a-kind, as unique as our fingerprints. Some prefer the calming flashes of blues and greens; others love the bright reds and yellows. As you turn and move the Opal, the color plays and shifts, giving you a gem that can be worn with a plethora of ensembles.
Australia’s Lightning Ridge is known for its rare and stunning black Opals. The ideal Opal is one that displays broad patterns covering the surface in all colors of the rainbow. Be sure to choose the Opal that showcases your color preference and pattern.
Despite having only just been discovered in the 1980s, Paraiba Tourmaline gemstones have already become one of the most precious and valuable gems in the world. Its rare shades of electric blues and greens are reminiscent of the blue ocean shores of Paraiba — its native land. These unique, vivid blue and green colors are not found in any other gemstone in the world.
Throughout human history, mankind has admired and worshipped pearls. Persian mythology referred to pearls as the “tears of the gods,” while ancient Chinese legend claimed the moon held the power to create pearls, instilling them with its celestial glow and mystery.
Pearls are unique because they are the only gemstone formed within a living creature. Since natural pearls are rare and difficult to recover from the ocean’s depths, man invented the technique of culturing salt and freshwater pearls from mollusks carefully seeded with irritants similar to those produced by nature.
Cultured pearls come in many beautiful colors, ranging from pale cream and white to rose, lilac, green, gold, gray and black. There are four main types of cultured pearls — Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and Freshwater — each with unique qualities that separates it from the others.
Today, pearls are both classic and contemporary; a strand of white pearls can be timeless but a bracelet of chocolate pearls is more modern. No matter the color or size, pearls can be worn every day or can complement the most formal attire.
In ancient times it was believed that Peridot was a gift from Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world. When presented as a gift, Peridot is said to bring the wearer magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares. It is also said to instill power and influence.
Today, most Peridot comes from Arizona, but it can also be found in China, Myanmar and Pakistan. Peridot is available in several colors ranging from yellowish green to brown, but the bright lime and olive greens are the most desired. If you prefer citrus or earth tones, you’ll find a place for Peridot in your jewelry collection.
Peridot gemstones smaller than three carats are common, while gemstones over five carats are rare and higher in value. Peridot between 10 to 15 carats are even more rare but provide a big and bold look for an affordable price.
Rubellite Tourmaline, also known as Red Tourmaline, varies in hue from pale to shocking pink to a bold, ruby-red, and sometimes has a violet tint. While some in the gem world consider “Rubellite” to be merely a trade term for all deep pink or red Tourmalines, the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICGA) defines Rubellites by the way they behave in daylight and artificial light. A true Rubellite shines just as intensely in artificial light as it does in daylight.
Its vibrant color reflects passion, energy and life, and it is believed that Rubellite helps bring emotional balance and calm. Whether you prefer subtle pale pinks or hot, vivid shades of magenta, this gem is sure to ignite a spark.
The Ruby represents love, passion, courage and emotion. For centuries, this gem has been considered the king of all gems. It was believed that wearing a fine red Ruby bestowed good fortune upon its owner. Rubies have been the prized possession of emperors and kings throughout the ages, and to this day remain the most valued gemstone.
A Ruby’s color is its most important feature. Rubies are available in a range of hues from purplish and bluish red to orange-red. The brightest and most valuable color of Ruby is often “a Burmese Ruby” — a rich, passionate, hot, full red color with a slight blue hue. This color is often referred to as “pigeon blood” red, a Ruby color only associated with the Mogok Valley mines in Myanmar. The color Pigeon Blood Ruby red is not associated with the color of a pigeon’s blood but rather the color of a white pigeon’s eye.
Upon hearing the word “Sapphire,” many immediately envision a stunning violet-blue gemstone. “Sapphire” is Greek for blue, after all. Since ancient times, the Blue Sapphire has represented a promise of honesty, loyalty, purity and trust. To keep with this tradition, Sapphires are one of the most popular engagement gemstones today.
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized Sapphires are from Myanmar, Kashmir and Sri Lanka. Sapphires with a highly saturated violet-blue color and a velvety or sleepy transparency are more rare. The purer the blue of the Sapphire, the greater the price. However, many people find that darker hues can be just as appealing.
Sapphires are not only blue. They also come in pink, yellow, orange, peach and violet colors. The most sought-after color of fancy Sapphire is the rare and beautiful Padparadscha — a pink-orange corundum with a distinctive salmon color reminiscent of a tropical sunset. These ultra-rare, ultra-expensive stones are among the most coveted gems in the world.
Centuries ago, Sanskrit writings referred to Spinel as the daughter of the Ruby. The bright red color of Spinel is so similar to that of the Ruby that the two are often confused with one another. Spinels are actually rarer than Rubies, but unlike Rubies, they can sometimes be found in large sizes.
In addition to beautiful rich reds, Spinel can also be found in shades of orange, beautiful pastel pink and purple. Of particular interest is a vivid, hot pink color with a tinge of orange that is mined in Burma. This is one of the most spectacular gemstone colors in the world and is truly unlike any other gem. Spinel also comes in beautiful blues, though these are extremely rare.
Believed to protect the owner from harm, to reconcile differences and to soothe away sadness, the Spinels true appeal is its range of rich, brilliant colors and affordability.
Tanzanite is a one-of-a-kind gemstone unlike any other and can only be found in one place on Earth: the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. This gem possesses an exotic velvety blue with a rich overtone of purple, making for a color that is truly unlike any other.
Tanzanite is one of today’s most popular blue gemstones and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and striking colors. Tanzanite is rarely pure blue and almost always displays its signature overtones of purple. In smaller sizes, Tanzanite usually contains lighter tones and a lavender color while larger sizes typically display a deeper, richer and more beautiful blue.
In shades of yellow, brown, honey, green, blue, red, pink and sometimes no color at all, Topaz has a broad range of appeal. It is most often found in amber gold, yellow or a blushing pink-orange, but a pale pink or a sherry red Topaz is highly exceptional. The most prized color of Topaz is called Imperial Topaz and features a magnificent orange with pink undertones. Blue, once the rarest color of Topaz, is the most common today due to man’s ability to enhance its color; Topaz with a naturally blue color is very rare.
The ancient Egyptians and Romans associated this golden gem with the sun god, giving it the power to protect and heal. Legend also says that Topaz dispels enchantment. With its worldwide mass appeal throughout the centuries, once you find that perfect Topaz, you’ll soon be under its spell.
Available in a spectrum of colors and color combinations, Tourmaline lives up to its name, which means “mixed stone.” With a rainbow of colors, Tourmaline can easily enhance any jewelry collection. Cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, violet… Tourmaline is all of these and more.
Tourmaline is also known for its ability to display several colors in one gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations and are highly prized. One multi-color variety is known as Watermelon Tourmaline and features green, pink and white color bands. To resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices with a pink center, white ring and green edge.
With Tourmaline available in so many colors, you’re sure to find one in your favorite.
Turquoise is among the oldest known gemstones and its popularity has spanned the globe for centuries. It graced the necks of Egyptian Pharaohs and adorned the ceremonial dress of early Native Americans. This beautiful robin’s egg blue gemstone has been attributed with healing powers, status and wealth, protection from evil and good luck.
Turquoise is an opaque, light- to dark-blue or blue-green gem with its finest color being an intense blue. Turquoise may contain narrow veins of other materials either isolated or as a network. They are usually black, brown or yellowish-brown in color. Known as the matrix, these veins of color are sometimes in the form of an intricate pattern, called a spider web.
Most people think of a bright sky blue when they think of Zircon, but it is also available in beautiful earth tones of green, dark red, yellow, brown and orange. Today, the most popular colors of Zircon are the vivid blue and bright Caribbean Sea colors.
In the Middle Ages, Zircon was said to aid in resting, bringing prosperity, honor and wisdom to its owner.
Zircon’s spectrum of beautiful colors, its rarity and its affordability have all contributed to its popularity today. Some gem collectors seek out Zircon from different locations, capturing gems in every color of the rainbow — colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red and everywhere in between.