Gemstones Tips

Read these 106 Gemstones Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Jewelry tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What other uses does malachite have?

Uses of Malachite

Did you know:

As early as 3000 BC, malachite was recovered from the copper mines of Egypt and Israel. Besides being used for jewelry, magic charms and ornaments, it was ground into a powder and worn as eye makeup. The same powdered pigment is used by painters under the name of mountain green.

   
What is Meru Sapphire?

Meru Sapphire

"Meru Sapphire" is tanzanite.

   
What is mystic topaz?

Mystic Topaz

Mystic topaz is a topaz gemstone that has been coated with an iridescent, reflective coating similar to that on marbles and sunglasses.

   
What is Spinel Ruby?

Spinel Ruby

"Spinel Ruby" is spinel.

   
What is the zodiac stone for virgo?

Zodiac Stones - Virgo (Hindu Version)

Carnelian - guarantees success in virtually anything a Virgo wearer tries

   
What is titanium quartz?

Titanium Quartz

Titanium quartz is quartz that has a reflective, iridescent layer of titanium sublimated onto the surface of a quartz gem.

   
What is a Medina Emerald?

Medina Emerald

"Medina Emerald" is green glass.

   
What is Balas Ruby?

Balas Ruby

"Balas Ruby" is actually spinel.

   
What is a Mogok Diamond?

Mogok Diamond

"Mogok Diamonds" are actually topaz.

   
Where does dravite tourmaline get its name?

Dravite

The name dravite is derived from the district of Drave, in Austria.

   
What is Swiss Lapis?

Swiss Lapis

"Swiss Lapis" is dyed blue jasper.

   
What gems are black?

Black

Pearl
Jet
Onyx
Tourmaline
Hematite
Coral
Obsidian
Diamond

   
Do emeralds come in other colors?

The Beryl Family

The beryl family of gemstones has many colors. Emerald is the most well known, with its rich green hues. Other gems include delicate pink morganite, baby blue aquamarine, rich red bixbite, golden yellow heliodor, and colorless goshenite. The different colors in the beryl gems come from trace elements present when the crystal is formed.

   
What is Ceylon Opal?

Ceylon Opal

"Ceylon Opal" is moonstone.

   
What is Black Onyx?

Black Onyx

"Black Onyx" is generally dyed calcedony.

   
What is Amazon Jade?

Amazon Jade

"Amazon Jade" is amazonite feldspar.

   
Are my soft gems safe?

Delicate Gems

Gemstones all have different hardnesses and durabilities. This is often overlooked in commercial jewelry, and stones that may be inappropriate for high wear settings are often found mounted in pieces that literally were designed to fail.

Very delicate gems such as moldavite, amber, apatite, and others with hardnesses below 7 should never be worn in rings unless in an extremely protective setting. Harder stones such as emerald, which tends to be hard yet brittle, should also be avoided in rings. To prolong the life of your delicate jewels, wear them in earrings or pendants. These are low wear pieces of jewelry, and your fine gems will remain intact and beautiful much longer than they would in a ring or bracelet.

   
What is prismatic?

Prismatic

Habit in which parallel pairs of rectangular faces form prisms.

   
What is Inca Rose?

Rhodocrosite

Argentina has the oldest rhodocrosite mines; its banded rhodochrosite is sometimes called "Inca Rose"

   
What is a Ceylon Diamond?

Ceylon Diamond

"Ceylon Diamond" is a name sometimes used for zircon.

   
What is Smoky Topaz?

Smoky Topaz

"Smoky Topaz" is often used to refer to smoky quartz.

   
What is Water Sapphire?

Water Sapphire

"Water Sapphire" is iolite.

   
What is Indian Jade?

Indian Jade

"Indian Jade" is adventurine quartz.

   
Where does topaz get its name?

Topaz

The name topaz is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit word tapas, meaning fire.

   
What is the zodiac stone for Capricorn?

Zodiac Stones - Capricorn (Hindu Version)

Ruby - protects Capricorn wearer from any trouble

   
What is fracture?

Fracture

Chipping or breaking of a stone in a way unconnected to the internal atomic structure. Because of this, fracture surfaces are usually uneven.

   
Where does zircon get its name?

Zircon

The name zircon comes from the Arabic word zargun, which derives from the Persian word for "gold color".

   
Where does spinel get its name?

Spinel

It is thought that the name spinel comes from the Latin word spina, which means "little thorn", because spinel crystals have very sharp edged points.

   
What is Brazilian Ruby?

Brazilian Ruby

"Brazilian Ruby" is a misnomer often referencing topaz.

   
What are Herkimer Diamonds?

Herkimer Diamonds

"Herkimer Diamonds" are actually very pure rock crystal quartz. These crystals usually form in beautiful doubly-terminated crystals. They occur in the area of Herkimer, New York.

   
What is Colorado Jade?

Colorado Jade

"Colorado Jade" is amazonite feldspar.

   
What is aqua aura?

Aqua Aura

Aqua Aura is generally a quartz material coated with a reflective layer similar to that found on iridescent marbles and sunglasses. It does not occur in this state naturally.

   
Are there any stones disguised as rubies?

Disguised as Rubies?

Did you know that some of the world's most famous rubies are not rubies at all? The "Black Prince's Ruby" and "Timur Ruby" in the British Crown Jewels are actually spinels! They occur in such a rich red color, they have long been thought of as rubies, yet they are not.

   
What is a Spanish Emerald?

Spanish Emerald

A "Spanish Emerald" is green glass.

   
How can I care for my opal?

Caring for Opals

Opals are one of the toughest gems to keep looking their best. Sometimes they lose thier luster due to small scratches on the surface of the gem. These can be repolished by a lapidary to renew a glossy surface. However, many times opals will seem to just lose their fire. This is due to dehydration. Every so often, take a small jar and fill it with distilled water. Place your opal jewelry in the jar, under the water and let it soak for a few days. Think of it as a spa for your jewels! This should help rehydrate your opals and renew some of their life. This is especially vital in very dry or hot climates!

   
What is African Jade?

African Jade

"African Jade" is actually translucent green garnet.

   
Where does cassiterite get its name?

Cassiterite

The name cassiterite comes from the Greek word, kassiteros, meaning tin. (cassiterite is tin oxide)

   
What is the zodiac stone for gemini?

Zodiac Stones - Gemini (Hindu Version)

Agate - guarantees long life, health and wealth to a Gemini

   
What is the zodiac stone for aquarius?

Zodiac Stones - Aquarius (Hindu Version)

Garnet - guarantees true friendship when worn by an Aquarian

   
What is Spinel Sapphire?

Spinel Sapphire

"Spinel Sapphire" is spinel.

   
What is Pike´s Peak Jade?

Pike's Peak Jade

"Pike's Peak Jade" is amazonite feldspar.

   
What is the folklore on iolite?

The Viking's Compass

Iolite has been referred to as the "Viking's compass." On cloudy days, the Vikings were able to locate the position of the sun by looking through a thin colorless slices of iolite. The stone acted as a light polarizer and cancelled out haze and mist.

   
Where does quartz get its name?

Quartz

The name quartz comes from the Greek word krustallos, meaning ice, because it was thought taht quartz was ice formed by the gods.

   
What is the zodiac stone for libra?

Zodiac Stones - Libra (Hindu Version)

Peridot - will free a Libra wearer from evil spell

   
What is a colored stone´s value?

Colored Stone Values

Value in a colored stone is based on rarity, followed by intensity and trueness of color, as well as evenness of color. Following these factors in determining value is cut, and weight.

   
Where does achroite tourmaline get its name?

Achroite

Achroite is named after the Greek word achroos, meaning "without color"

   
What is Topaz?

Topaz

The term "Topaz" is often used to misrepresent citrine quartz.

   
What is Siberian Ruby?

Siberian Ruby

"Siberian Ruby" is tourmaline.

   
What is Bohemian Ruby?

Bohemian Ruby

"Bohemian Ruby" is rose quartz.

   
What is Japanese amethyst?

Japanese Amethyst

"Japanese Amethyst" is actually synthetic amethyst.

   
What is Hyacinth?

Hyacinth Stone

Prior to the 1900's, orange or reddish brown zircon was referred to as Hyacinth.

   
What is a apatite called?

Apatite

Spanish apatite is often called "asparagus stone" because of its yellowish green color.

   
What are the black beads I have?

Is it Jet?

Jet is a form of fossilized coal that was revered during Victorian times, and used widely as jewelry to mourn the passing of a loved one. But how do you know if what you have is jet? The preliminary tests are quite simple. First feel the piece - does it seem exceptionally light for its size? Jet is very light, so this would be step one. After you have determined the heft (or lack thereof!) you can then test aroma. Rub the beads briskly between your hands to warm them and stroke the surfaces of the beads and then smell the piece - does it have an organic smell, possibly with a touch of woodsy smoke? Jet is fossilized coal, and it will smell slighly like coal when rubbed. Jet will also not be cold to the touch when first picked up.

If your beads pass all of these tests, you very well may have a lovely piece of jet on your hands. If you need to know for certain, take your beads to a jeweler for a second opinion, but these hints can help you find your way to identifying your beads.

   
Why are my gems fading?

Keeping Colors True

Store opaque stones in a dark place. Over a period of time, intense light can bleach the color. -- In Style Magazine, July 1999

   
Where does rodonite get its name?

Rhodonite

The name rhodonite comes from rhodos, the Greek word for rose, referring to the distinct color.

   
What is the zodiac stone for aries?

Zodiac Stones - Aries (Hindu Version)

Bloodstone - provides an Aries wearer with wisdom

   
Is anything brighter or sparkle more than a diamond?

Flashier than a Diamond?

Did you know, a zircon has a higher refractive index (sparkle factor) than a diamond?

   
What color are garnets?

A Rainbow of... Garnets?

Did you know, that garnets occur in every color of the rainbow? It is true, the gem once only associated with deep red has popped up in ever color of the rainbow! Most varieties occur in red, including pyrope, almandine, and spessartine. Andradite garnets occur in green, yellow, orange and black. Spessartine are orange, while Almandine are purple, Pyrope-Almandine are purple red or purple pink and commonly known as rhodolite. Grossular-Andradite are yellow or green, and Pyrope-Spessartine color changes to orange and pinky orange. Grossular also includes colors such as white, orange, yellow, green, and pink. There is a new variety recently discovered in Madagascar that color changes between velvety royal blue and rich purple.

   
Are gemstone beads popular?

Gemstone Beads

Gemstone beads are hotter than hot! Everywhere you look gorgeous baubles of emerald, sapphire, ruby, and beyond are popping up. Pair them with jeans and a white t-shirt for a classy casual look, or set them off as the highlight to that slinky black dress. Gemstone beads are the next great classic - go get yourself some!

   
Where does meerschaum get its name?

Meerschaum

Light and porous enough to float on water, meerschaum derives its name from the German word for "sea foam".

   
What is Colorado Ruby?

Colorado Ruby

"Colorado Ruby" is actually garnet.

   
What is Oriental Amethyst?

Oriental Amethyst

"Oriental Amethyst" is sometimes actually purple sapphire.

   
What gems are red?

Red

Ruby
Diamond
Garnet
Spinel
Coral
Topaz
Tourmaline

   
Are amethyst and citrine the same?

The Quartz Family

The quartz family of gems has many colors. Purple amethyst, golden citrine, bicolor ametrine, smokey quartz, rose quartz, and rutilated quartz are all in the same family. These beautiful gems have been among some the most popular jewels.

   
Why is my emerald cloudy?

Emeralds and Fuzz

Does your emerald look like it has "fuzz" inside? This type of inclusion is referred to as Jardin. It is extremely rare for any natural emerald to be free of Jardin, and some consider it to be a natural part of an emerald's beauty. It is part of your gem's character, and helps identify your emerald as a genuine gemstone.

   
What is Alexandrite named for?

Czar Alexander Stone

Did you know, the highly revered gem Alexandrite was named after Russian Czar Alexander? The jewel was discovered on his birthday, and its unique color changing properties exhibit both the national colors of Russia, red and green.

   
What is the zodiac stone for leo?

Zodiac Stones - Leo (Hindu Version)

Onyx - protects a Leo wearer from loneliness and unhappiness

   
What is an evening emerald?

Evening Emerald

"Evening Emeralds" are actually Peridot.

   
What is an Indian Emerald?

Indian Emerald

"Indian Emerald" is a misleading name given to dyed crackled glass.

   
Why do my beads look dull?

Opaque stone care

Opaque stones can be ruined by chemicals. Wait a few minutes after applying hairspray or perfume to put them on; remove them before using lotion. -- In Style Magazine, July 1999

   
Where does chrysoberyl get its name?

Chrysoberyl

The name chrysoberyl is from the Greek word chrysos, meaning golden, and beryllos, which refers to the beryllium content.

   
What gems are yellow?

Yellow

Citrine
Chrysoberyl
Sapphire
Diamond
Topaz
Tourmaline
Heliodor
Sinhalite
Fire Opal
Garnet
Titanite
Amber
Pearl
Orthoclase
Amblygonite
Sphalerite
Sunstone
Brazilianite
Topaz

   
What is the zodiac stone for taurus?

Zodiac Stones - Taurus (Hindu Version)

Sapphire - protects from mental disorders if worn by a Taurus

   
What is German Lapis?

German Lapis

"German Lapis" is dyed blue jasper.

   
What is a Soude Emerald?

Soude` Emerald

"Soude` Emerald" is a green composite stone.

   
What is zircon known for?

Zircon

Zircon has been believed to provide the wearer with wisdom, honor, and riches. Loss of luster has been said to warn of danger.

   
Where does pyrite get its name?

Pyrite

The name pyrite comes from the Greek work pyr, meaning fire, because sparks are caused when pyrite is struck with a hammer.

   
What gems are rainbow in color?

Rainbow

Opal
Laboradorite
Spectrolite
Mother of Pearl
Fire Agate
Ammolite

   
What gems are purple?

Purple

Sapphire
Spinel
Amethyst
Scapolite
Tanzanite
Garnet

   
What gems are green?

Green

Emerald
Peridot
Jade
Garnet
Moldavite
Diamond
Sapphire
Diopside
Apatite
Enstatite
Kornerupine
Fluorite
Tourmaline
Alexandrite
Chyrsoprase
Diaspore

   
What is Oriental Sapphire?

Oriental Sapphire

"Oriental Sapphire" is chyrsoberyl.

   
What is California Ruby?

California Ruby

"California Ruby" refers to garnet.

   
What is Spanish Topaz?

Spanish Topaz

"Spanish Topaz" is citrine quartz.

   
What is Madeira Topaz?

Madeira Topaz

"Madeira Topaz" is citrine quartz.

   
What gems are blue?

Blue

Aquamarine
Sapphire
Spinel
Tourmaline
Topaz
Lapis Lazuli
Iolite
Tanzanite
Kyanite
Pearl
Benitoite
Fluorite
Spinel
Apatite
Sodalite

   
What is Brazilian Sapphire?

Brazilian Sapphire

"Brazilian Sapphire" is often a misnomer for either tourmaline or topaz.

   
What is Oregon Jade?

Oregon Jade

"Oregon Jade" is dark green jasper.

   
What is the zodiac stone for scorpio?

Zodiac Stones - Scorpio (Hindu Version)

Beryl - guarantees protection for Scorpio from "tears of sad repentance"

   
What is the zodiac stone for pisces?

Zodiac Stones - Pisces (Hindu Version)

Amethyst - protects all Pisces from extremes of passion

   
What is California Moonstone?

California Moonstone

"California Moonstone" is caldedony.

   
Where does kunzite get its name?

Kunzite

Kunzite is named for George Frederick Kunz, the gemologist who discovered it.

   
How Do I Clean My Gemstone Jewelry?

Cleaning Gemstone Beads

Clean opaque semi-precious stones with mild, soapy water. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaning machine; it may alter the color. -- In Style Magazine, July 1999

Guru's note: Ultrasonic machines can not only alter color of gems, but can drastically damage them as well. Some gems will shatter or crack when subjected to the high frequencies that ultrasonic machines produce. It is a good rule of thumb to avoid them with most gem beads, to avoid any unnecessary structural damage.

   
Where does sinhalite get its name?

Sinhalite

Sinhalite is named after sinhala, which is the Sanskrit name for Sri Lanke, the gem's most abundant region.

   
What gems are white or colorless?

Colorless or White

Diamond
Quartz
Zircon
Sapphire
Tourmaline
Apatite
Moonstone
Fluorite
Goshenite
Achroite
Petalite
Datolite
Scheelite
Dolomite
Euclase
Scapolite

   
What is a Brazilian Diamond?

Brazilian Diamond

"Brazilian Diamonds" are actually colorless topaz.

   
What gems are pink?

Pink

Rose Quartz
Ruby
Sapphire
Diamond
Tourmaline
Topaz
Morganite
Kunzite
Pearl
Garnet
Taafeite
Coral
Spinel

   
What gems are orange?

Orange

Citrine
Amber
Garnet
Topaz
Sapphire
Diamond
Scheelite
Fire Opal
Tourmaline
Scheelite

   
What is the zodiac stone for Sagittarius?

Zodiac Stones - Sagittarius (Hindu Version)

Topaz - protects Sagittarians, but only when they show the stone

   
What is Swiss Jade?

Swiss Jade

"Swiss Jade" is dyed calcedony.

   
Do any gems have more than one color?

Full Spectrum Sapphires

When you think of sapphire is your mind filled with rich velvety blues and clear summer skies? If so, you are not alone. Sapphires invoke thoughts of opulent shades of blue from the softest baby blanket to rich midnight hue. You might be surprised to find that sapphire is one of the few gems that occur in every color imaginable. Some sapphires even have two or three different colors in one stone, these are referred to as bi-color or parti-color!

   
Are rubies and sapphires the same?

Rubies and Sapphires

Rubies and sapphires are basically the same stone. They are chemically identical, save for a minute little trace element. This trace element is what determines colouring in the jewel. If the stone contains traces of Chromium, and is red or deep pink, the gem is then transformed from a sapphire to a ruby!

   
Where does hiddenite get its name?

Hiddenite

Hiddenite is named after W.E. Hidden, who discovered it in North Carolina in 1879.

   
What is Transvaal Jade?

Transvaal Jade

"Transvaal Jade" is translucent green garnet.

   
What is Australian Jade?

Australian Jade

"Australian Jade" is chrysoprase.

   
What is the zodiac stone for Cancer?

Zodiac Stones - Cancer (Hindu Version)

Emerald - guarantees everlasting joy to a Cancer-born

   
What is an Oriental Emerald?

Oriental Emerald

"Oriental Emeralds" are green sapphire.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Patricia Walters-Fischer