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Gemstone Glossary

Find out all you need to know about gems with this helpful gemstone glossary! Gemstones add beauty and color to jewelry. They have a long history in most cultures. Here are some essential aspects to learn about these jewels.

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Abalone Shell

Available in a variety of colors, a colorful mollusk shell with a mother-of-pearl lining. It comes in variations of green, purple, black, white, brown, and pink.

Agate

A form of chalcedony quartz with a firm outer shell and a banded colorful middle. It is a softer stone so it should be handled with care. The agate is thought to offer protection, encourage strength, and bring harmony.

Alexandrite

A rare and expensive gemstone that can change color. The stone can look red or purple indoors while it appears more of a green color under natural sunlight. It is a hard gemstone which makes it ideal for jewelry. This stone is an alternative birthstone for the month of June.

Amazonite

A gemstone symbolizing a sense of hope, it is a pretty light to blueish-green color. It is a softer gem so it should be handled with care.

Amethyst

This quartz gemstone ranges from a bluish violet to a purple in color. It is February's birthstone. The stone is also reported to bring the wearer good luck.

Ametrine

A colorful variety of quartz that is created when yellow or orange citrine and purple amethyst happen within one crystal. It has a medium hardness that makes it great for jewelry.

Aquamarine

Called the water of the sea thanks to the color, it ranges from a light blue to a blue-green teal color. It is the birthstone for the month of March. It is also a harder stone with a Mohs Hardness Scale rating of 7 to 8. It is believed to be a talisman for sailors which brings protection.

Aventurine

It is a form of quartz that comes in several colors including orange, brown, and yellow. However, the most popular color for this stone is green.

-C-
Carnelian

A variety of quartz that is found in red, orange, or brown shades. Carnelian is an alternate birthstone for July.

Citrine

A variation of quartz ranging in color from light yellow to bright orange. It is the birthstone for the month of November and is supposed to help bring self-confidence for the wearer.

Corundum

The second hardest gemstone second to only to diamonds. Corundum is actually a mineral that forms the stones of ruby and sapphire.

Crystal

A transparent form of crystallized quartz. While they are usually thought of as clear, they actually come in various colors.

Cubic Zirconia

A man-made jewel that is similar to a diamond in appearance. Having the same hardness and colorless look, it is an inexpensive alternative to diamonds.

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Diamond

This is the most sought-after gemstone and highly valuable for the brilliance it offers. Diamonds can be colorless or in colors such as yellow, brown, and black. They are the hardest natural gemstone. Diamond is the birthstone of April.

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Emerald

This stone can be expensive thanks to the deep color. It ranges from pure green to a bluish green with color consistency throughout. This gemstone has been associated with good fortune and is the birthstone of May.

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Garnet

This stone is the birthstone for January. While the red color is the most popular, it actually comes in every color, except blue.

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Hematite

Called the Bloodstone, the color of this stone ranges from black to brown to bright red and includes a rusty red streak. The unique red of the stone contains the same pigment used in cave paintings.

-I-
Iolite

A transparent mineral used in jewelry thanks to the violet-blue, light blue, or yellowish gray color it offers. It has been called the Water Sapphire.

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Jade

The color ranges from emerald green to more mottled tones of green, pink, yellow, black, and white. Jade is a desirable stone for the beauty it offers and the belief that it promotes health and love.

Jasper

Jasper is made of quartz, chalcedony, and other minerals. It is found in different tones of red, yellow, brown or green, and occasionally in blue.

-K-
Kunzite

A transparent crystal stone that comes in hues of pink and purple in varying shades. It can also be found in green.

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Labradorite

A variety of translucent feldspar that exhibits iridescent colors such as yellow, blue, aqua, red, green, and orange when tilted to reflect light. The gemstone is believed to bring good luck and reduce stress for the wearer.

Lapis

A blue composite mineral that is usually striped or spotted. It is a softer stone and more vulnerable to high temperature than other stones, but the blue color makes it popular. It is a birthstone of December.

-M-
Marcasite

It has a bright metallic luster. While it is pretty, there are only a few varieties that are suitable for use in jewelry.

Moonstone

A gemstone that comes in several different colors with the most common being a transparent milky white.

Morganite

Available in an assortment of pink and peach hues, morganite is believed to offer a sense of peace, joy, and inner strength for the wearer.

Mother of Pearl
An iridescent blend of minerals coating the inside shell of select mollusks. It is an organic, luminescent gem that should be worn with care due to frailty. It can come in multiple shades.

-O-
Obsidian

A glassy stone that forms when volcanic lava cools quickly. Although it is usually black, this stone can be found in shades of brown, gold, or even white.

Onyx

A finely textured quartz mineral. While it is usually thought of as a solid black color, it actually ranges in color from white to black while displaying white bands or ribbons.

Opal

An iridescent stone with a luminous appearance, it has multiple colors within each piece. It has a prismatic look when it comes in contact with light. It is the birthstone of October.

-P-
Pearl

One of the most sought-after gems, the pearl is an organic gem created when a mollusk secretes a calcium carbonate matter around an irritant, placed naturally or by man in a cultured environment. The color ranges from white to black, with versions of pink, green, and blue also available. They are fragile and need to be treated with care to avoid damage. They are also valuable for their luster and visual appeal. Pearls are the birthstone of June.

Peridot

Also called chrysolite, olivine, and evening emerald, this yellow-green to olive green gemstone is the birthstone of August. It is a more fragile stone so it needs to be well protected in the setting.

-Q-
Quartz

The most abundant mineral on earth, it is usually clear and colorless, but it can be found in different colors as well. Many eminent gemstones are varieties of quartz that are divided by color or banding variances. Forms of quartz comprise of amethyst, citrine, onyx, agate, and chalcedony.

-R-
Ruby

A red stone ranging in color from dark red to deeper brownish hues. It is the second hardest stone behind the diamond. Known for its stunning beauty, this stone has a long history and is popular for jewelry. It is July’s birthstone.

-S-
Sapphire

The birthstone of September, this is a durable stone great for jewelry. While it is often thought of as a blue stone, it comes in many colors. It is a symbol of love and wisdom.

Sodalite

Named after the high sodium content found in the stone, sodalite is a popular blue stone. It brings the wearer rationality and efficiency.

Spinel

A mineral type belonging to the spinel group. It is found in a variety of colors, usually various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, brown or black.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski Crystals are lead glass that has been cut to catch the light to bring out the brilliance. They are used in a variety of jewelry pieces.

-T-
Tanzanite

A mineral that first came on the market in 1967, it is an alternative birthstone for the month of December. When in a natural state it is a dusty brown color. Once treated with heat, the stone becomes a beautiful royal blue or lavender.

Tiger's Eye

A fibrous quartz with a slit of light resembling a cat's eye, it is a rich brown to yellow-gold hue with a silky luster. It is popular for use in men’s jewelry. It is believed to bring about good mental and physical health, as well as protection, for the wearer of this gemstone.

Topaz

An abundant, light-colored mineral existing in nearly every color except purple. It is affordable and ideal for jewelry thanks to the color choices and abundance. However, pink topaz can be costly because it is still a rare find. Clear topaz is often used as a substitute for diamond. Topaz is the birthstone for November.

Tourmaline

A stone available in a variety of solid and multi-color options which appear to change colors under light. Since most stones have multiple shades, a single-color stone is valuable and rare.

Turquoise

A mineral consisting of hydrated copper aluminum phosphate. The colors range from a sky blue to a pale green. This is gemstone with a long history and relevance in such diverse places as Egypt, China, Persia, and even early Native American civilizations.

-Z-
Zircon

A colorful jewel with comparable properties to a diamond. Although zircon appears in an array of possible colors, the light blue stone is the most popular and is an alternate birthstone for December.

Our gemstone glossary features descriptions of the many stones we carry at Joy Jewelers. Find your next stunning accessory today!

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