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Gemstone Guide


Gemstone Guide

Gemstone Reference Page

Please use this page as a reference for gemstone colors, color variations, and for  a bit of anecdotal information that we've learned about these semi-precious stones.

The list is presented in alphabetical order so that you can easily find the gemstones  you are looking for. The stones are usually available in many different shapes and configurations - but  we tend to use donuts or heart pendants for our pictures, since a large, flat surface tends to best show the  characteristics of each stone. If more than one picture is shown, the pictures show some of the variation  that you might expect to see in the gemstone.

Agate, Blue Lace
A naturally occuring agate that features delicate bands of pale blues and  white. Smaller beads or pendants may show less banding than the larger stones. Lately, the rough  stone has been difficult to get, so when our current stocks are depleted, we may not have more of  a certain shape for an unknown period of time.
Agate, Crazy Lace
Detailed wavy bands of creamy whites, tans, browns, golds, black and  sometimes pinks make up this lovely, interesting agate.
Agate, Moss
Moss Agate gets is color from greenish, moss-like inclusions that come from a  mineral called chlorite. Sometimes there will be so many inclusions that the beads will look almost  black - but when you hold it up to the light, you will see the inclusions. Moss Agate can also be almost  clear - or have white or light green inclusions. A web oriented note: It can sometimes be very  difficult to take a good picture of Moss Agate - because the picture taking method tends to eliminate  many of the 'greens'.
Russian Amazonite, Chinese Amazonite
 Chinese Amazonite
Amazonite is a mostly opaque stone that can range in color from very pale bluish green  (Chinese Amazonite) to deep turquoise green (Russian Amazonite). Our pendants are made from the Chinese   form, unless otherwise noted.
Amber, Baltic
Amber is the fossilized, hardened resin from pine trees that lived about  50 million years ago. Most deposits of Amber are found in the Baltic region. Amber sometimes has tiny  air bubbles, fracture lines or tiny inclusions (insects or parts of plants can sometimes be seen).  Amber is very soft and can also be affected by acids or solvents. It can also be ignited by a match  and will smell like incense (a pleasant smell). Amber is extremely light weight - people who are  unfamiliar with it can mistake it for plastic, especially if there are few inclusions in the specimen.  If synthetic Amber tested with the match method - it will smell like plastic, not incense.
Amber tends to turn Sterling and Silver-plated findings black, so you  may want to select gold-plated findings when making selection in Amber.
Amethyst is actually a naturally occuring violet form of quartz. It is usually found in  geodes of volcanic rocks. Amethyst prices vary widely based on color (very dark purple to very pale),  clarity (inclusions), and cut/shape. When the color is as light as the center picture (donut), we  call it "Amethyst Crystal" so that you know you are getting very lightly colored Amethyst.
Aqua Aura
Aqua Aura is natural, clear quartz that has a permanent transparent, somewhat iridescent  blue surface treatment. The exact process is a trade secret, but is said to be a combination of heat,  pressure and exposure to vaporized pure gold. The gold is permanently bonded to the crystal structure  of the quartz, creating the surface color. Since this is a surface treatment, care should be taken not  to scratch the surface.
"Gem quality" Aragonite (the type used for calibrated and faceted stones) tends to be transparent  and faintly green. The type used for beads and donuts (the type carried on our Jewelry Plus store) is pale yellow  and is translucent to somewhat opaque. This is a very soft stone, so handle and store it with care. An interesting  fact is that Pearls and Mother of Pearl are made primarily of Aragonite - pearl oysters and mussels utilize this  mineral in the production of nacre.
Aventurine (Green)
Aventurine comes in several colors - but the most common in the bead world is the green.  Aventurine is actually a greenish quartz that often contains tiny flakes of  mica which give this stone it's depth and occasionally, a somewhat metallic appearance. This gemstone  can vary in color from very pale, translucent green to deep, dark green and almost opaque.
Azurite Malachite
Azurite and Malachite are gemstones that are found in association with  copper ores. While these two stones can be found together in nature - there is not enough raw material  to satisfy demand. Products on Jewelry Plus will be clearly marked "natural" or "reassembled". In some  cases, the stone combination will actually be Malachite and Lapis - and that too, will be marked.
Bloodstone (sometimes also called Heliotrope) is an opaque or vitreous green stone with red/yellow spots.  The stone is not jasper, but a dark green Chalcedony (crypto-crystalline quartz) with  inclusions of red to brown. The luster of this stone can be anywhere from vitreous to waxy.   The name Bloodstone comes from Christian's belief that the stone was created/symbolizes drops  of Christ's blood falling on it. There are many sources for bloodstone worldwide.
Carnelian Agate
Carnelian Agate is a bright red-orange to a deep, brown-orange chalcedony. Small  beads will appear to be more translucent; large beads will appear more opaque. Items referred to  as "Chinese Carnelian" will tend be more translucent and may have bands of lighter orange or clear/white. 
Chalcedony, Blue
Chalcedony is bluish-grey-white gemstone. It can be rather translucent, with a waxy look to  it - varying to somewhat opaque. It usually is prefixed by the word "Blue" to distinguish it from the geologist's  term "chalcedony" meaning a "crypto-crystalline quartz". The blue form is the best known version of this  type of gemstone.

Chalcedony seems very smooth and hard when polished, but it actually is microscopically porous, making it  easy to dye. In fact, if you accidentally splash coffee on your chalcedony pendant, it can stain the stone - so be sure to rinse any spills with lots of water immediately.

Chrysocolla is a mostly blue-green gemstone color with brown or black inclusions. It has a somewhat  dull luster.
Sponge Coral, Bamboo Coral (dyed pink)
Sponge Coral is an organic gem composed of calcium carbonate and carotene.  When polished and smooth, this precious material has visible pores, like a sponge.  It's typically warmer in color and ranges anywhere from white, orange, and pink to black.  Good quality coral has no fissures, spots, bands, or cavities and is rare. Often coral is enhanced  to improve color and durability. 
Bamboo coral is a readily available (non-endangered) coral that is typically off white to  tan in color. It is commonly dyed or bleached to look like more expensive (and endangered) coral.  Our coral products are dyed with permanent, non-bleeding dyes.
Crinoid Fossil
Crinoid Fossil is a fossilized sea lily. Greys, creams and black make up the background  of this gemstone. Usually (but not always) there will be some level of pinks mixed in this agate.
This green to apple green gemstone is considered one of the most valuable of the  chalcedony group. The color comes from the presence of Nickel during the formation of the stone. Note  that the color can vary greatly - and that there often are inclusions in the yellow, white and brown  color tones. Chrysoprase can be adversely affected by heating - so be careful if you are soldering  near this stone.
A deep blue stone, with occasional small traces of grey to cream inclusions (most bead  related items are made from Dumortierite aggregate, rather than Dumortierite crystal). The aggregate is  equivalent to quartz in hardness, though.  
The Fluorite items we carry tend to be shades of purple, pale green, and almost clear stone.  It is very common to see horizontal bands of color in this gemstone, as shown by the picture.  Fluorite can also be found in a range of other colors, including yellow and gold tones and even blue tones.  This is a very soft stone and is prone to scratching and fracturing. The name of this gemstone comes from the fact that it fluoresces strongly under certain light  sources. Nevertheless, it is often mis-spelled "Flourite" (having nothing to do with flour!)  
Garnets are gemstones that are usually shades of red, but span the color spectrum.  They may be opaque to transparent and are vitreous to resinous in luster. Red Garnet used for the bead  market is often dyed to enhance the color. While the dye is colorfast (in the stone) it is wise to  rinse them before using to remove any remaining dye on the surface.
Goldstone is not gold and it is not a 'stone'. It is a man-made material made from tiny  copper flakes suspended in copper colored glass. At one time, this material was called "Monkstone", because the  process of making it was originated by an Italian monk.
Goldstone, Blue
Similar to the Goldstone, above, this material is not a 'stone' or 'rock', but are tiny  copper flakes in colored blue glass. The material is so dark blue that it sometimes looks black.
Hematite is a mineral (iron oxide), not a rock (as many gemstones are). It is shiny,  metallic black. Items on the JewelryPlus.net website are all natural Hematite. Hematite is extremely  abrasive to the cutting tools that are used in bead and pendant making, so many of the products  in the bead market are actually a man-made substitute that is sometimes called Hematine (and other  similar names). We mark any Hematite that we know is man-made (examples can be found on our  abeadstore.com website). The man-made form of Hematite is slightly magnetic - so you can test any  item you may have by using a strong magnet.
Howlite, Lapis
Howlite is a nice, white stone that is commonly dyed to look like much more  expensive stones. Lapis Lazuli is expensive - Lapis Howlite is dyed to look a bit like it. VERY dyed.  Usually the dye job is pretty good. The rinse job sometimes is not. Please soak items made from this  material in the sink before using them!  
Howlite, Purple
Purple Howlite is dyed to look like Sugulite, a very expensive gemstone.  Web-like black streaks often characterize this mineral. It polishes well and has a  porcelaneous luster, often crystals are opaque to translucent. Howlite is mined largely in California. 
Howlite, Turquoise
Just like the Howlite Lapis, above, this stone has been dyed to look  like a much more expensive stone. Turquoise is expensive - Turquoise Howlite is dyed to look a bit  like it. This product usually is not dyed as much as the Lapis Howlite. Still, please soak these in  the sink before using them!  
Howlite, White
Howlite in it's natural form is quite white, completely opaque, and usually has  faint grey to black matrix marks throughout. The samples shown here are about as dark of matrix  as we ever see - usually it will be fainter.  
Hydro-Thermal Materials - "H-T"
These materials are quartz, ground to fine powder with the mineral substance of the  natural mineral (for instance cobalt for the Blue Topaz) to achieve the natural mineral color. Water,  heat and pressure are added to grow the crystals. Since the impurities that naturally occur in nature  are not in the lab environment, the resulting material is quite clear and beautiful. 
The color of these products is permanant and is consistent all the way through the piece (not a  surface application). Since the material is made from quartz, it will have the same characteristics  (such as hardness).
We carry H-T products in a number of colors: Amethyst (purple), Blue Topaz (light blue), "Siberian  Blue" Topaz (darker blue), Citrine (Yellow), Peridot (light peridot green) and "Emerald Peridot" (dark peridot  green).
Jade, Burma
A Jadeite from Burma (see Jade). Tends to be more  expensive than Nephrite Jade. In the bead industry, it is sometimes just called "Jadeite" - even though  gemologists recognize many forms of Jadeites.
Jade, Green
Jade can form in a huge variety of colors - but the most familiar to most people is  Green Jade. It can vary in tone from medium green to quite dark, blackish green - but our stock tends  to be somewhere in the middle of that range. The term 'Jade' can refer to either one of two separate  minerals: Jadeite or Nephrite, the Nephrite being the more common. In China, Jade has been used for  carving for about 7000 years. Most of our products will be listed as "BC Jade" - meaning that the Jade  comes from deposits in British Colombia, Canada.
Jade, White
White Jade used in the bead market is probably not Jade. The stone used as White Jade  is semi-translucent with somewhat opaque inclusions dispersed evenly through the stone, giving  a Jade-like appearance. The stone is reasonably hard (takes on a good polish).
Jasper, Brecciated
Sometimes used interchangeably with the name "Poppy Jasper", Brecciated Jasper  tends to be the darker form of this stone: deep reds, many shades of browns, and tans characterize  this stone. As in all jaspers, the stone is opaque. You may very occasionally see a patch of translucent  (uncolored) agate in some Brecciated or Poppy Jasper items.
Jasper, Dalmation
This jasper has black and brown spots on a beige to tan background - and is named after the  coat of the Dalmation dog breed, which is similar in appearance. 
Jasper, Fancy
This picture shows only part of the color range that you may find in Fancy Jasper. In large  flat pieces, like donuts, you tend to get mostly one color in the piece, similar to the picture shown. In  round beads, you tend to get a mix of colors on the strand, usually about 1/3 are darker green tones, and  the rest will be a mixture of colors. This gemstone is sometimes referred to as "India Agate", even though  it is usually opaque. It is also closely related to Moss Agate and you will sometimes see "mossy" areas of  color in the gemstone.
Jasper, Leopardskin
Leopardskin Jasper is the easiest gemstone to identify. First, it has those  wonderful leopard-like spots in tones of browns, creams and often in pinks. If you are still not  sure, sniff it! If smells faintly like gasoline, you know for certain (well ventilated Leopardskin  will lose this smell after a while).
Jasper, Ocean
Ocean Jasper is volcanic in origin. The gemstone is rich in silica and is the product of a  rhyolitic flow (compare the patterns in this stone to those found in Rhyolite). The  rough gemstone comes from a deposit in Madagascar. It can have a huge range of color variation - from white,  grey and beige, to pinks and yellows, to a vast range of green tones. 
Jasper, Picture
Picture Jasper is a chalcedony that is rendered opaque by iron ore. The iron  deposits form fascinating patterns of creams, browns and grey/blacks that can look like an abstract painting.  Sometimes, this jasper is also called Landscape Jasper because the patterns can look like trees or other  landscape features.
Jasper, Poppy
Please see Brecciatted Jasper.
Jasper, Rainforest
Please see Rhyolite.
Jasper, Red
Red Jasper is a brick red jasper that can vary between quite dark reddish brown to a rather bright  red. It can occasionally include inclusions of white/creamy agate or thin black lines.
Lapis Lazuli
A gemstone that has been used for thousands of years for human adornment - many samples  of this beautiful blue stone have been found in Egyptian tombs and in other archaeological digs.  This gemstone is formed from a number of minerals - important ones being Sulfur (the coloring agent),  Calcite (controls how many white inclusions occur in a particular piece) and Pyrite (gives sparkle  and depth). "Lazuli" is derived from the same Latin word as "Azure" - hence: Blue Stone.
Lapis Lazuli, "Mixed"
This is the same gemstone as that above, just a lower grade. Actually there are many  difference grades of this stone that are used in the gemstone bead market - with various industry  names attached ("denim lapis", "Lapis B", etc). Exact guidelines don't exist - but this Lapis will  have more inclusions of Calcite and other materials making it less of a solid, deep blue. 
Lapis Nevada
This is a beautiful opaque gemstone in shades of light green, pink and cream.  Depending on the minerals present in the rock, the color tones and hardness may vary. The stone was discovered in the State of Nevada in 1954 — "Nevada" is also the Spanish  adjective for "snow covered" — either source seems like a good inspiration for the gemstone  name. To complete the etymology lesson, the word "Lapis" comes from the Latin word for "stone".
Lepidolite ranges from lilac to rose-violet in color. The luster of this gemstone can range from  vitreous (glassy) to pearly, and can range from transparent to translucent. This mineral is found in several sources,  including the United States, South America, Europe and Africa. In the bead market, it is common to hear this stone  referred to as "Flower Sugulite", even though it is not Sugulite.
Malachite is found in association with copper deposits and derives it's  lovely variety of green colors from those minerals. It is somewhat soft and should be treated with  care to preserve it's glossy finish. Most of our products will display some degree of Malachite's  desirable 'banding'.
Marcasite is a mineral that is very similar to pyrite and is usually yellow to yellow  brassy, sometimes with green hues and a metallic luster. Marcasite can cause sterling silver findings  to oxidize more quickly than usual.
 Peach, Grey and Cream Moonstone (often strung in a "tricolor" arrangement), Rainbow Moonstone
Moonstone is a pearly white stone that can range from colorless to brown and  everything in between. It generally has a silky luster with a blue or white sheen and ranges  from transparent to translucent, resembling moonshine. The cause of its luminescence is due  to the internal structure of the stone, which causes light rays to be refracted and scatter.  They are found in Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Europe, and Madagascar.
Bleached Mother of Pearl, Unbleached Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl is the common name for an iridescent blend of calcium  carbonate secreted by oysters and other mollusks, also known as nacre. It's naturally  iridescent in color, and bleached varieties may appear white. Mother of pearl beads may  also be dyed a variety of different colors.
Obsidian, Black
Obsidian is a rock formed from volcanic glass. In the case of Black Obsidian, the stock  is uniformly black, opaque, and polishes to a shiny surface finish.
Obsidian, Mahogany
Mahogany obsidian is a vitreous, translucent, natural glass that is  red in color and often has darker red and/or black spots. 
Obsidian, Snowflake
These white 'snowflakes' are a natural formation in black obsidian. They  occur as part of the cooling and crystallization process of molten volcanic glass.
Onyx, Black
A black, glossy, hard stone that actually is a black form of chalcedony. While "true onyx"  has banded color layers, black onyx will be uniformly black. This gemstone tends to take on a more shiny  polish than Black Obsidian or "Blackstone".
Pietersite can range anywhere from gold, red, blue, brown with any combination  of these colors. The gemstone itself is a combination of many that have been broken apart  and re-cemented with silica (brecciation). Because of this, the patterns of colors throughout  the stones are variable. It has a silky, fibrous luster. Pietersite is found only in China and Namibia. 
Quartz, Clear
This is another gemstone that is called by many names. Common ones are "Rock Crystal"  and "Crystal Quartz". The name describes it: quartz that is clear and colorless. Most pieces will have  a bit of depth provided by small impurities or tiny fracture lines in the crystal.
Quartz, Rose
Lovely, pink quartz - a perennial favorite. Our products are undyed,  unless noted in the comments with a specific product.
Quartz, Rutilated
Rutilated Quartz comes in a variety of colors and ranges from colorless  to yellow, brown, purple, and gray. It is vitreous in luster and ranges from opaque to  transparent. Rutile is titanium dioxide, often forming needle-like structures within quartz.  When quartz is rutilated it looks like small bars of gold are embedded in it.  It can be difficult to attain a smooth surface without any pits because of the differences  of hardness between rutile and quartz. 
Quartz, Tourmalinated
Tourmalinated Quartz is transparent quartz that contains needles of black tourmaline,  with a luster that can range anywhere from vitreous to dull. It's valued because of the tourmaline inclusions.  Tourmalinated quartz is one of the more rare members of the Included Quartz group.  It is similar to rutilated quartz and is largely found in Brazil and California.
Rhodochrosite used for beading products is formed in caves and primarily comes from  Argentina. The deposits appear as stalagmites. This gemstone is relatively rare, especially in the color we carry: mostly pinks, lots of creamy white banding, and almost no grey, yellowish or black inclusions.
Rhodonite forms in manganese ore veins - the black matrix that you often  seen in the stone is manganese oxide. Generally, this stone is an opaque pink - sometimes bright,  sometimes a duller pink. The black matrix can be predominate - or nonexistent. Occasionally, we  even see yellowish or white traces in the stone.
Rhyolite aka "Rainforest Jasper"
This jasper features a multitude of greens, with occasional leopard-like spots of cream,  brown or even orange. Other gemstone stock can be primarily brown, with tan and cream-colored markings. Sometimes, the name of this stone is also spelled "Riolite".
Ruby in Zoisite
Ruby in Zoisite is a combination of green zoisite rock with black hornblende  and large rubies. The colors within this gemstone include bright green and rose-pink to purple.  These gemstones are usually translucent to opaque with a pearly or sub vitreous luster. Geologists refer to this gemstone as "Anyolite."
Common Serpentine color, "New Jade" color form
Serpentine refers to a mottled, scaly mineral that imitates jade.  It is usually opaque to translucent, and may be vitreous, greasy, or silky in luster. Colors  range from white to grey, yellow to green, and brown to black. It is often splotchy or veined,  and inter grown with other minerals. Sources are worldwide. A pale green, translucent form of  this gemstone is commonly referred to as "New Jade" in the bead market.
Sodalite is a rich blue to blue-grey stone. It sometimes has veins of white  calcite to brighten things up.
Spiral Shell
Spiral Shell is composed of polished, shaped sea shells. They are naturally  shades of off-white with a pearly luster. Also see Mother of Pearl.
Sunstone is a naturally occuring gemstone found in India and in the state of Oregon, among other  places. Don't confuse this with man-made Goldstone! It's unique feature is a deep  golden-orange sparkle that comes from the depths of the stone. Geologists call this gemstone "Aventurine  Feldspar".
Tiger Eye
Tiger Eye is actually a quartz that contains numerous inclusions of fibrous,  golden yellow oxidized minerals. When cut and polished, these inclusions give the effect of looking  into an 'eye'.
Tiger Iron
Tiger Iron is a stone that is often found in association with Tigereye. Some gemstone  resources refer to it as "Tigereye Matrix" - since it is a mineral aggregate that has layers of Tigereye  alternating with layers of iron oxide (think: hematite). Products will be a dark chocolate brown with  occasional streaks of red and gold shimmers.
Turquoise, Chinese
Turquoise is a somewhat soft gemstone occuring in various shades of blue and green,  often with matrix interspersed (tones of black, brown and white). This picture shows only a fraction of  the possible color tones that can be encountered. Chinese Turquoise obviously comes from deposits in  China - so the color can differ from deposits found elsewhere (i.e. deposits in the United States).  The stone will also vary in color and consistency between different mines in the same region.  Turquoise can be adversely affected by heat (about 480 degrees F), detergents, oils, etc. 
Unakite is a rather hard stone that takes on a nice glossy polish. The main components of  this rock are quartz, feldspar (source of the pink & orange tones) and greenish epidote. This stone was  named for the place it was originally discovered, in South Carolina.



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