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Gemspedia >> Gems >> Gemstone Guide

Gemstone Guide


Alexandrite is a form of the mineral Chrysoberyl which is a very attractive and rare stone. It is 8.5 on Mohs hardness scale and mainly found in Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Burma, Madagascar and USA. The most sensational feature about this stone is its surprising ability to change its color under different forms of light. Green or bluish-green in daylight, red in candle light, green in fluorescent light and reddish-purple in standard electric (tungsten) light.


The gemstone Amber is the fossilized liquid, resin, or gum from pine trees and available in various colors like golden yellow, golden orange, brown, green, red and violet. These gemstones may contain insects, plant material, feathers and other small objects that were trapped millions of years ago when the resin was sticky. Amber is quite soft but perfect for jewelry as it can be easily cut, etched, faceted, or carved.


Amethyst is a variety from Quartz family, colored by traces of manganese, titanium and iron. Deeper-colored amethysts are more highly valued. It is available in colors like purple, pale lavender to deep reddish purple, bluish violet etc. Rich purple has always been a rare and noble color. Amethyst’s name comes from Greek word ’Amethystos’ meaning ’Not Intoxicated’ or ‘Not Drunken’. The Amethyst is said to bring good luck and to radiate love. This brilliantly sparkling stone is the most valued gemstone from the quartz family. It is 7 on Mohs hardness scale and mainly found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Burma, Canada, East Africa, India, North America, Russia, Uruguay, Madagascar and Australia.






Aquamarine is a variety of mineral Beryl. This is a fascinatingly beautiful gemstone found in colors like light blue of the sky to the deep blue of the sea. The more intense the color of an Aquamarine, the more value is put on it. Its hardness makes it very tough which comes in between 7.5 to 8 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique and USA. Its name is derived from the Latin ’Aqua’ (water) and ’Mare’ (sea). Aquamarine is one of the most popular and best-known gemstones.


Citrine is a variety of mineral Quartz and available in colors like light yellow, lemon yellow, amber-brown and brilliant orange. This radiant gemstone gets its name from the French word ‘Citrin’, meaning ‘Yellow’. Citrine is known as a tough gemstone with 7 points on Mohs hardness scale and with good durability. This gemstone is mainly found in South America, Brazil, Madagascar, Argentina, Russia, Scotland and Spain.


Emerald, a variety of mineral Beryl, is one of the most fascinating and beautiful gemstones available in various shades of green color. The name of this remarkable gemstone comes from Greek ‘Smaragdos’,meaning ‘Green Stone’. Deep green is the most desired color in emeralds. Its hardness makes it very tough and durable which comes in between 7.5 to 8 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Columbia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Afghanistan and USA. Flawless emeralds are very uncommon, and are noted for their great value, sometimes even more than diamonds.


Garnet, which belongs to mineral quartz, is a family of stones having many varieties differing in color and in their constituents. This name is derived from its resemblance in color and shape to the seeds of the pomegranate. Garnet Stones are available in varieties named Grossularite, Pyrope, Almandine, Rhodalite, Andradite, Essonite, Tsavorite, Spessartite, Melanite, Allochroite, Ouvarovite and Demantoid. The most common color of Garnets range from light red to violet, but can also be white, green, yellow, brown and black except blue. Its hardness is between 7.5 to 8 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Burma, Sri Lanka, South Africa, China, USA, Tanzania, Madagascar, India and Australia.


Jade is a semiprecious stone, which is often used to describe jadeite and nephrite both as these two are similar in appearance and use. It is available in varieties of shades like green, light purple, yellow, pink, creamy white etc. Although this stone is found at many places but the best quality jade comes from Myanmar (formerly Burma). Jade is quite a hard stone with 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale and used in many jewelry items.


The word "diamond" comes from the Greek word “Adamas”, meaning "Unconquerable". Diamond is composed of carbon that crystallizes in the “cubic,” or “isometric,” crystal system. It is the hardest known substance in the world (10 on Mohs’ scale). The Diamond is uniquely resistant to damage by heat or scratching, and can be cut or polished only by another diamond. It occurs in colors ranging from colorless to yellow, brown, orange, green, blue, and violet.


Onyx is a beautiful gemstone composed of chalcedony (a variety of quartz) and available in colors like black, white, black with white bands, red, brown etc. Onyx which is available in a red, brown or reddish brown color is known as Sardonyx. The bands that are found on this stone run parallel and are consistent. It is extremely similar to Agate, another variety of quartz. Agate bands are round or circular and are not consistent. Its hardness in between 6.5 to 7 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Madagascar, India, Brazil, United States, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


The name Opal is derived from three sources: Sanskrit ‘Upala’, Latin ‘Opalus’, and Greek ‘Opallios’. All three of these words mean the same thing – precious stone. Opal is made from sand and water. It has the same chemical formula as quartz with the addition of 3 to 10 % water content. This is a very popular gemstone, mainly due to its wonderful variety of rich and beautiful colors like black, white, gray, yellow, red, orange and colorless. High quality opals have an extraordinary feature of opalescence in which light reflects and bounces around the very small structures of the stone, giving it a wonderful aura and sometimes iridescence. The group of fine Opals include quite a number of wonderful gemstones which are differentiated on the basis of the variety, place of occurrence, and color of the main body, into Dark or Black Opal, White or Light Opal, Milk or Crystal Opal, Boulder Opal, Opal Matrix, Mexican and Fire Opal. Its hardness in between 5 to 6.5 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Australia, Brazil, Mali, Japan, Russia, USA and Mexico. Australia is the major supplier of Fine Opals and almost 95 per cent of all Opals come from Australian mines.


A Pearl is an organic gem, produced when certain mollusks, primarily oysters cover a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. A good sized Pearl can take between five to eight years to form, which is usually the entire life of the oyster or mollusk. There are two types of Pearls: Natural Pearls, formed inside wild oysters, practically impossible to find nowadays, and Cultured Pearls in which the production of the pearl is artificially induced. For producing cultured pearls, shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. The finest Natural Pearls are fished almost exclusively from the Persian Gulf and the China Sea, while the best cultivated ones come from Japan, Korea and more recently Australia. Its hardness in between 2.5 to 4.5 on Mohs hardness scale and should be handled with care. Pearls are usually white, sometimes with a creamy or pinkish tinge, but may be tinted with yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, or black. Pearls are available in different shapes: round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, and ringed. Perfectly round Pearls are the rarest and most expensive. Fine Natural Pearls are much more expensive and rare to find than Cultured Pearls.


Peridot, a variety of mineral olivine, is a very old but still very popular gemstone. Peridot is formed deep within the earth under tremendous heat and pressure. The color of peridot is an integral part of its structure. Chemically peridot is an iron-magnesium-silicate and its intensity of the color depends upon the amount of iron contained by it. It is available in only one color shade with colors like yellow green, olive and brownish green. This gemstone is in fact identified by three names, Peridot, Chrysolith and Olivin. Its hardness in between 6.5 to 7 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Australia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, China, Burma, Arizona, USA, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


Quartz is the most common mineral on earth. It is a crystalline mineral that comes in many forms.


Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum and known for its magnificent color, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance. Only red corundum is entitled to be called ruby, all other colors being classified as sapphires. This stone is available in colors like bright red, brownish-red, purplish-red, dark red and blood red. The name ‘Ruby’ comes from Latin ‘Rubens’ which means ‘Red’. In Sanskrit, the ruby is called ‘Ratnaraj’, meaning ‘the king of precious stones’. This gemstone has excellent luster, rarity and durability. Its hardness is 9 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Transparent rubies of large sizes are even rarer than diamonds.


Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum and represents all the colors except red corundum, which is ruby. Its physical and chemical properties are virtually similar to properties of ruby. Blue is the main color of the sapphire whereas this gemstone is also found in colors like yellow, green, orange, pink, gray, colorless, black, brown, and purple. The word ‘Sapphire’ in its plain context refers only to blue sapphire, unless a prefix color is specified. Sapphire is one of the most desirable gems due to its color, hardness, durability, and luster. Its hardness is 9 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Australia, India, Brazil and Africa.


Onyx which is available in a red, brown or reddish brown color is known as sardonyx.


Tanzanite is a blue variety of the gemstone zoisite and named after the East African state of Tanzania, the only place in the world where it has been found. It is a trichroic gem which displays three layers of color. The colors dark blue, green-yellow and red-purple can be seen. Tanzanite is a beautiful gemstone, known for its brilliance but on the other hand it is a delicate gemstone which comes in between 6 to 7 on Mohs hardness scale.


Topaz, a member of quartz family, is a beautiful gemstone that most commonly is found in yellow color. It is also available in various other colors like blue, brown, green, orange, pink, red, white, gold, colorless etc. The name topaz is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Tapas’, meaning ‘Fire’. Topaz, with 8 on Mohs hardness scale, is considered tough and durable gemstone but still is not an invincible stone. It cracks and chips easily than many other gemstones. It is mainly found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria, USA, Australia, Madagascar and Mexico.


Tourmalines are gemstones with deep brilliance and an incomparable variety of colors like black, red, pink, blue, green, grey and yellow. These Gemstones are mixed crystals of aluminium boron silicate with a complex and changing composition. The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words ’tura mali’, means something like ’stone with mixed colors’. Tourmalines with different colors have different names. It comes in between 7 to 7.5 on Mohs hardness scale and it is mainly found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA.

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