Gemstone Guide – All the Different Gemstones Used in Jewelry

Gemstones Used in Jewelry

I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine. You can’t possess radiance, you can only admire it,” said Elizabeth Taylor, who was famed for her gorgeous collection of gemstones. While precious metals might be alluring enough, there’s no denying that gemstones are the real beauties that intrigue, dazzle and enhance each jewelry’s appeal. From the unmistakable sparkle of diamonds to the soft sheen of pearls, from the royal blue of lapis lazuli to the rich crimson of rubies, gemstones add both color and exclusivity to your jewel.

What are Gemstones?

Gemstones are valuable minerals that have been discovered and mined as rocks. They are then handpicked for their beauty, rarity, and durability. Once found suitable for use in jewelry, they’re cut and polished to perfection as needed. Most gemstones are formed and created this way, but there are a few exceptions called organics. These include pearls, corals, and ambers – produced by living organisms and found in nature. If we consider every gemstone used in jewelry, the number goes well beyond 300! However, a few popular gemstones score very highly on the popularity scale as far as jewelry is concerned.

What Does Gemstone Wearability Mean?

Gemstones are graded for durability and wearability against one another basis their hardness. The measuring parameter is the well-known Mohs scale, created in 1812 by mineralogist Friedrich Mohs. The diamond ranks the hardest in the world, scoring 10 on the Mohs scale. Rubies and sapphires come next at 9 since they’re both from the corundum family. However, a diamond is significantly harder and can easily scratch your sapphires! Similarly, your sapphire can scratch a topaz, which measures 8. Gemstone hardness is crucial because it indicates how much wear and tear your stone shows. Fortunately enough, one can wear diamonds daily. However, a pearl that measures only 2.5 to 4 on Mohs needs much more mindful handling.

This attractive and sturdy diamond and sapphire chevron ring offers four rows of sparkle. In each row, a pear-shaped sapphire is flanked by pave diamonds. Set in 14k white gold, this geometrically-layered piece gets itself second (or maybe third, or fourth) glances, every time worn.

What Kind of Gemstones Are Best for Jewelry?

When purchasing jewelry, remember the purpose for which you’re buying it. Engagement rings almost always feature diamonds because they are durable and can be worn daily with minimal wear and tear. They are highly versatile – it goes without saying! Brighter gemstones with color are usually worn to complement a particular outfit and occasion. Jewelry settings are yet another factor to consider. For instance, a moonstone would not do well in an exposed ring setting because it is on the delicate side. Here are some gemstones you should consider including in your jewelry collection.

1. PEARLS: Along with corals and ambers, pearls are organically-formed gemstones. There’s something magical about the soft moonlight sheen of a pearl – the sharp sparkle of other gemstones simply can’t compare. Formed within the soft tissue of shelled mollusks such as oysters, the finest quality pearls are those which have the most nacre (or layers formed on them). They don’t need to be cut or polished; they’re quite exquisite as they are. Luster is one of a pearl’s most defining properties. The light entering through the layers of nacre and reflecting through it brings about a pearl’s luster; the smoother the nacre, the better the luster. Grades vary from Excellent to Poor, with Very Good, Good, and Fair in between on the scale. Size and surface quality are other factors determining a pearl’s price. Although white is the most popular color, these unique gemstones come in different colors, from silver to peacock green, from pink to black. Pearls must be stored carefully and cleaned gently to prevent chipping, yellowing, and other damage. If you are intrigued to know more about this June birthstone, click here to read. 

Bring home the soft luster of the pearl with this chic and sleek lariat necklace in 14k gold. It features a single pearl pendant and diamond bar adornment.

2. AQUAMARINES: As the name suggests, aquamarine means the color of the sea. These are blue stones from the beryl family, the same family that emeralds belong to. The blue color comes from the presence of iron. The gemstone hue can range from the pale blue icy oceans of the north to deeper Mediterranean shades. The darker and bluer an aquamarine is, the more expensive and exclusive it becomes. Aquamarines are known for their clarity and dazzling sparkle and measure around 7.5 on the Mohs scale. This makes them ideal for affordable engagement rings and other daily-wear jewelry. To read more about these March birthstones, click here.

Bring home the soft luster of the pearl with this chic and sleek lariat necklace in 14k gold. It features a single pearl pendant and diamond bar adornment.

3. PERIDOTS – Peridots are green stones with a yellow tint, distinctly different from the deeper green hues of an emerald. The Egyptians used to call them the ‘gems of the sun’ for their intense, bright color, while ancient Romans referred to them as ‘evening emeralds’ because they continued to sparkle by candlelight. The name stems from the Arabic word ‘Faridat’, which simply means ‘gem’. It comes from the mineral olivine and is found only in the color green, although shades may vary based on the amount of iron in its structure. Other than diamond, it is the only other stone to be formed in the earth’s mantle – all other gemstones are formed in the earth’s crust. Although smaller peridots are inexpensive, anything over 10 carats is fairly rare and is definitely priced higher. Peridot measures 6.5 – 7 on the Mohs scale. Know these August birthstones better by clicking here to read more.

This delicate promise ring sparkles with a peridot surrounded by a halo of diamonds. Set in yellow gold, it combines elegance with a pop of color.

4. RUBIES: There’s nothing as ethereally beautiful as a blood-red ruby. It emanates unparalleled glamour, luxury, and lushness. The unique bright color of this stone, when offset by the soft metallic sheen of gold or platinum, is simply captivating! High-quality rubies can be extremely pricey – some of the most expensive gemstones on the planet. Made from the mineral corundum, rubies measure 9.0 on the Mohs scale. They are a fabulous choice for an engagement ring if you’re looking at diamond alternatives. They probably complement the beauty of your lady love, even better than a diamond! Click here to read more about these July birthstones.

Adorn your finger with this spectacular ring, that boasts five red rubies that alternate with diamonds. Set in 14k white gold, it is sure to stand out and make a statement.

5. SAPPHIRES: Sapphires are made from the same mineral as rubies – corundum. While rubies are only red, sapphires can be any non-red color. This is what distinguishes the two gemstones. Blue is the most popular shade synonymous with sapphires, but they also come in yellow, pink, and white. In fact, some of the rarest and most expensive sapphires in the world have unique hues. A good sapphire with very few inclusions or flaws is hard to come by, so prices can go through the roof if you’re looking for the perfect gemstone for your jewelry. Know more about this gorgeous September birthstone by clicking here.

6. AMETHYST: This gem has long been associated with royalty due to its rich purple color and durability (7.0 on the Mohs scale). It was a rare and expensive stone at one point in history, making its way to the crowns of kings and queens across Europe. However, recent discoveries of mass quantities have made it extremely affordable. That said, it doesn’t take away from its unique beauty. The amethyst is a quartz gemstone, and the amount of iron determines the exact shade of purple – ranging from lilac to bright violet. To delve deeper into understanding this February birthstone, click here.

7. CITRINE: This aptly-named stone looks like it borrowed its colors from citrus fruits! The stone has a bright, vivacious yellow color resembling a lemon or sometimes a melon. Citrines hail from the same family as amethysts. However, in the case of citrines, the stone is heated. So, the shade of the iron is yellow instead of violet. As with amethysts, they are affordable and durable, making them a great choice for functional jewelry. Learn more about this November birthstone by clicking here.

An oval-cut citrine is set horizontally as the center stone of this 14k white gold ring. A diamond halo surrounds the center stone and adds sparkle to this already dazzling piece.

8. EMERALDS: What women do not love emerald jewelry! Probably one of the most popular and sought after of all gemstones, besides diamonds. Emeralds are known for their beautiful green color and durability – since they measure around 8.0 on the Mohs scale. They are part of the beryl family, like aquamarines, but are much more expensive. They also tend to be more expensive than sapphires and rubies. Emeralds can sometimes be brittle because they have internal fissures. It is important to consider this and check your emerald quality before purchasing it. Emeralds also happen to be the birthstone for the May born. Before buying emerald jewelry, learn more about them by clicking here.

9. DIAMONDS: What more can we say about the queen of all gemstones, the diamond? Women love them unequivocally. They’re the most desirable gemstones and a ‘girl’s best friend’ as Marylin Monroe crooned over six decades ago. Diamonds are a form of carbon and the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth. The ideal diamond is colorless, flawless, and clear. The presence of certain inclusions can cause variations in price and desirability. If you’re looking to purchase a diamond, check out the 4cs – cut, color, clarity, and carat, and always make sure you get what you’re paying for. Another fact is that diamonds are naturally formed and mined, but there are also lab-grown diamonds that cost considerably lesser than the former. However, a few of the naturally formed colored diamonds, in red, blue, pink, orange, green, and purple, are extremely rare and only a handful in the entire world. They are obnoxiously expensive and, understandably, only selectively available. Nevertheless, one can get lab-grown colored diamonds at a much more affordable price. Know this beloved gemstone, which is also the April birthstone, better, by clicking here.

10. TOPAZ: Everyone loves a topaz. Not only is it affordable and durable (8.0 on Mohs), but it also comes naturally in myriad colors and shapes, making it so versatile. Blue, pink, yellow, orange, green, and brown is some popular topaz varieties to opt for. It is interesting to note that topaz prices vary greatly. The colorless ones cost as much as fashion jewelry, while the rarer shades like lilac can set you back by over $600 per carat. Topaz is one of the traditional birthstones for those born in December, though people wear it regardless. Know the stone better by clicking here.

Here’s a beaded open bangle that’s young, fun and contemporary. Accentuated with two striking blue topaz gemstones, a row of sparkling diamonds encircles each of these. The bangle is set in 14k gold.

11. OPAL: This delicate and opaque gemstone comes in various colors – fire opals are orange-hued and more expensive. Still, the most commonly used gems are white opals. They have a milky white shade with rainbow colors reflecting off the surface. It rates around 4.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, so any jewelry you buy needs to be held in place by a secure setting to ensure minimal wear and tear. Both opal and tourmaline are the official birthstones of October. Learn more about opal, also known as the gems of luck, by clicking here.

What are Precious and Semi-Precious Gemstones?

In a world where every gemstone has its own unique story and natural beauty, how does one distinguish between precious and semi-precious gemstones? Only four gemstones are classified under fully precious – rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and, of course, diamonds. All other gemstones are considered semi-precious. The categorization can sometimes be quite complex and confusing. For instance, emeralds and aquamarines are both from the beryl family. However, one is precious, and the other is semi-precious. You ask, how? Well, the classification stems from the rarity difference and the gemstone value. Then again, while pearls are rare and are sometimes incredibly expensive, they still fall under the broad category of semi-precious stones. Then there are other stones, such as amethysts which have become so affordable over the last century. These often find a place in fine jewelry lines, despite being touted as semi-precious.

This 14k yellow gold beaded yellow-gold bracelet comes studded with five stunning amethysts, linked together with diamond stations. It is a dramatic piece of jewelry that adds color and flair to your overall look.

How Many Gemstones Are There in The World?

You may be astounded to know, but there are almost 4000 mineral varieties known in the world, and only about 50 are popularly used as gemstones in jewelry. The above listed names are the most popularly used. The rest of them are fairly lesser known, easily available, and pretty inexpensive.

Interesting fact:The United States of America produces both natural and synthetic gemstone varieties like beryl, coral, garnet, diamond, jade, jasper, opal, pearl, tourmaline, turquoise, and many more. The state of Arizona leads the natural gemstone production, closely followed by Oregon. The other top natural gemstone producing states are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

Are There Gemstones More Expensive Than Diamonds?

“Better a diamond with a flaw, than a pebble without,” said Confucius. The great philosopher certainly knew that diamonds – even flawless ones – are among the most precious stones on the planet. And yes, traditionally, diamonds have always been the most expensive. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some species of gemstone– emeralds, rubies, and sapphires – can be more valuable and costlier than diamonds based on their quality, value, size, and rarity. For instance, the “Blue Bell” of Asia is a 392.52-carat Ceylon sapphire that sold for a whopping $17,305,996 in 2014. And the 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby sold for over $30 million the following year. There are also some semi-precious gemstones like Painite, which is more expensive than a diamond simply because it is so extremely rare and scarcely available! Interestingly, Painite holds the Guinness World Record for being the rarest mineral on earth!

Here’s a celebration of precious jewelry at its best! This gorgeous pair of diamond studs is set in 14k white gold. The center stone for each earring is a 0.28 carat emerald, flanked by a diamond halo of 0.12 carats.

What is the Difference Between a Gemstone and a Crystal?

Crystals might be beautiful, but don’t confuse your gemstones and crystals. Gems are found naturally as minerals in the form of stones or created organically through living organisms. They are rough and shapeless in their natural form. However, a three-dimensional geometric shape such as a tetragon or a hexagon characterizes a crystal. This is because molecules and atoms are arranged in a specific way. Certain crystalline gemstones fall under both categories, such as garnets. Make an informed choice when you’re at your jeweler – don’t end up purchasing a crystal if you mean to buy a gemstone!

This pair of garnet earrings comes in fiery red, offset by soft yellow gold. Each center stone is 0.33 carats, surrounded by a shimmering halo of diamonds.

What is the Difference Between a Gemstone and a Birthstone?

Simply put, not all gemstones are birthstones, but all birthstones are gemstones. Gemstones are simply precious or semiprecious stones formed naturally from minerals. Birthstones, too, are gemstones, but they are aligned to a particular month or time period in which a person is born. Each person, depending on the month or zodiac they are born into, has a gemstone as their birthstone. There are generally two assigned birthstones for most months – the traditional and the modern. 

Feeling attracted to this world of gemstones? Well, the plethora of choices can have you overwhelmed at times. Head over to Gabriel & Co.’s selection of beautiful gemstone jewelry with the most authentic, singular, and superior quality gemstones.

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