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Colored Gemstones

In brilliant colors and stunning cuts, colored gemstones are unique and varied. This guide to color gemstone jewelry will help you find the perfect gift or gem to add to your collection.

Gemstone hardness measures a gem’s resistance to scratching, and is one important factor in a gem’s overall wearability.

Amethyst
Amethyst

The brilliant color of amethyst makes it one of the most popular gemstones. Amethyst is purple quartz, and varies in color from pale lavender to deep purple with red highlights. The gem complements both warm and cool colors, so it is a versatile choice for both yellow and white gold settings. The highest quality amethyst is transparent.

Hardness rating: 7

Aquamarine
Aquamarine

Aquamarine means sea water, and the light blue, blue-green, and dark blue stones reflect the ever changing colors of the sea. The timeless gemstone is considered a symbol of youth, hope, and fidelity, making it a popular stone for anniversary gifts. Smaller aquamarines are typically pastel gemstones; darker shades of blue are increasingly rare and usually found in larger gemstones.

Hardness rating: 7.5

Citrine
Citrine

Shining with a golden glow, citrine is considered a gift from the sun. Hues of the quartz range from pale yellow to rich golden yellow to dark orange. Most people choose a citrine based on their personal preference, but the most sought after gems are a clear, radiant yellow to brownish-red color. A popular and affordable gemstone, citrine is available in a range of sizes and shapes, making it a great choice for a bold piece of statement jewelry.

Hardness rating: 7

Diamond
Diamond

Diamonds have long been prized and admired as the ultimate gift and symbol of love and commitment. The 4 Cs of Diamonds (cut, color, clarity, carat weight) are the universal method to assess the quality of any diamond. While diamonds appear colorless to the naked eye, most diamonds possess various degrees of yellow shades. A truly colorless diamond is extremely rare and most prized.

Hardness rating: 10

Emerald
Emerald

Emeralds are among the rarest of gems, and symbolize the birth and renewal of spring. The first known emerald mines were discovered in Egypt, and Cleopatra was famous for her collection of emeralds. Their rich color ranges from medium to dark green beryl, and the deeper and more vivid the hue, the more valuable the stone. Emeralds are most often shaped into the geometric emerald cut.

Hardness rating: 7.5

Garnet
Garnet

Garnets are a set of closely related minerals that form a group and are available in a rainbow of hues, including dark red, purple, pinkish orange, and green. Red garnets are one of the most common gems and have been found on every continent. Usually cut in small sizes (less than two carats) garnets range in color from colorless to black, though the gem is often thought of as only red.

Hardness rating: 7-7.5

Jade
Jade

Treasured in China as the royal gemstone for thousands of years, jade is known for it’s vivid green color and smooth shapes. There are two types of jade: Jadeite and Nephrite. Jadeite is rare and more valuable than nephrite. Jadeite colors include red, yellow, green, lilac, black, orange, white, pink, blue, and brown. The highest quality jadeite is known as Imperial jade.

Hardness rating: 7

Nephrite jade is more widely available and softer than jadeite. Used in Chinese carvings for 4,000 years, nephrite comes in various tones of green, mostly with an olive green hue.

Hardness rating: 6.5

Onyx
Onyx

Onyx is a rich looking and affordable black stone found in both classic and contemporary designs. The use of onyx in jewelry can be traced back to Biblical times - historians believe the onyx was the final stone in Aaron’s breastplate. Onyx, sard, and sardonyx are all varieties of chalcedony (microcrystalline quartz). Onyx comes in black, brown, grey, and white. Sard is a reddish-brown gem, while sardonyx is reddish-brown with bands of white.

Hardness rating: 7

Opal
Opal

Opals are one-of-a-kind gemstones, each with a unique range of colors. Some opals are calming with flashes of blue and green hues; others are fiery with bright reds and yellows. Large opals are rare and costly, especially the highly prized black opal. The value of an opal is typically determined by the presence and nature of color flashes, or play of color.

Hardness rating: 6-6.5

Pearl
Pearl

Pearls are unique because they are formed in shellfish as a reactant to an irritant such as a piece of sand. The price of pearls varies widely based on luster, size, color, and type. Natural pearls are rare and difficult to recover from the ocean, making them the most expensive. Their colors are typically white, brown, silver, cream, black, or pink. Cultured pearls are less expensive, and colors range from pale cream and white, to rose, lilac, green, gold, and black.

Hardness rating: 3

Peridot
Peridot

Called the gem of the sun by the Egyptians, peridot gemstones are transparent lime or olive green. While the best peridot gems are a pure grass green, most gems are yellow-green. Peridot gemstones are cut in a variety of styles including ovals, emerald cuts, and cushions. Most peridot gemstones are smaller than three carats; 10 to 15 carat gems are rare and more valuable.

Hardness rating: 6.5

Ruby
Ruby

Rubies represent love, passion, and courage. As a prized possession of emperors and kings, ruby gemstones are often considered the king of all gems. The most important feature of a ruby is the color: hues range from bright red to purplish and bluish red to orange-red. The finest rubies are from Myanmar, where the bright red color of the Burmese rubies makes them the most valuable gems.

Hardness rating: 9

Sapphire
Sapphire

Sapphires are stunning violent-blue gemstones, and are named after the Greek word for blue. Sapphires are considered the ultimate blue gemstone and represent honesty, loyalty, and purity, making them a popular engagement gemstone. While sapphires are always assumed to be blue, they also come in pink, yellow, orange, peach, and violet hues.

Hardness rating: 9

Tanzanite
Tanzanite

Tanzanites are one-of-a-kind gemstones found in only one place on earth: the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. With an exotic velvety blue shade, tanzanites are a popular alternative to sapphires. Tanzanite is rarely pure blue, and the stones often have a rich purple overtone.

Hardness rating: 6.5

Topaz
topaz

This golden gem has been associated with the sun for centuries. Orange-red imperial topaz is one of the most sought-after colors and is highly prized. Blue was once the most rare color of topaz but today is the most common color you’ll see thanks to a treatment that enhances the color. The gemstone also comes in pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, and browns.

Hardness rating: 8

Tourmaline
Tourmaline

Tourmaline means mixed stone, and comes in a spectrum of colors including ocean blue, canary yellow, pink, cranberry red, black, forest green, and clear. The gemstone is known for displaying several colors in a single gemstone; these bi-color or tricolor gems are formed in many color combinations and are highly prized.

Hardness rating: 7.5

Zircon
Blue Zircon

Zircon is a natural stone and the most popular colors are vivid blue and bright Caribbean Sea hues. Colorless zircon stones are used to imitate diamonds; the stone also comes in earth shades like green, dark red, orange, yellow, and brown. With a wide spectrum of colors and its affordability, zircon is becoming a more popular gem today.

Hardness rating: 7.5