There are more than 200 types of gemstones around the world. A gem is a beautiful, durable mineral cut and polished to use in different decorations. Usually, these stones are used as religious symbols, decorative accessories, and jewelry pieces.
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The average reading time is 18 minutes. The article was last updated on 28/10/2023.
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Categories of gemstones
There are two categories: precious gemstones and semi-precious gemstones. But today, the criteria are also color, quality, and rarity. One more main difference is the difference in hardness.
Precious gemstones are diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. While Diamonds are the hardest stones, rubies and sapphires are also very close to the hardness.
Only emeralds are slightly less complex stones. But they are still precious gemstones because they are included in the stone formations, making them delicate.
All the semi-precious gemstones are not as hard as diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. But they are durable and can be used in pieces of jewelry. Do not forget the quality, color, and clarity that make a gemstone expensive.
So, let us begin to give the characteristics and some excellent details about gemstones.
Diamonds are the most complex natural elements compared to other minerals. Another difference is that white diamonds are primarily used in the jewelry industry. These gemstones are in different categories for many people because of the market value and the official grading system, and they are famous stones.
We have a complete article about diamonds (including the grading system), Secrets About Diamondsnds.
Facts about diamonds
- Birthstone of April
- Colors: white, blue, pink, red, black, and violet
- MOHS hardness scale: 10
- Value: Depending on the 4C’s grading: color, clarity, cut, and carat.
- Healing properties: protects from fatigue and mental illness. It gives the wearer strength and courage and protects him from danger.
- Places to be found: Africa, Australia, Canada, and Russia.
Do you want to find the perfect engagement ring? Please read our complete guide here.
Sapphires are a fantastic choice in the jewelry industry. They come in many colors, from blue to pastel and even yellow. The color makes them unique, and depending on the stone’s quality, the price can be more expensive than a diamond.
Facts about Sapphire
- Birthstone of September
- Colors: blue, pink, green, yellow, and many others
- MOHS hardness scale: 9
- Value: Depending on the color and quality, sapphires can be more expensive than diamonds.
- Healing properties: promote health, spiritual clarity, and guard innocence.
- Places to be found: most famous sapphires are in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Australia, India (Kashmir)
- Apple has consumed much of the world’s supply to make iPhone camera lenses and fingerprint readers.
- The sapphire is the traditional gift for the 45th wedding anniversary
When you think of red stones, rubies are the most popular types of gemstones. Many high jewelry designers are using rubies for their designs. One theme is Graff. Check the link here.
Facts about rubies
- Birthstone of July
- Colors: from pinkish red to blood-red.
- MOHS hardness scale: 9
- Value: As always, grading is essential. The color, clarity, and geographic origin are the factors.
- Healing properties: health, wisdom, and love
- Places to be found: Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Kashmir, and Mozambique are the most popular.
- Zodiac: Capricorn
Emerald is one of the particular types of gemstones that are precious. It is not rigid, which means if you have emerald jewelry, it needs special attention. You can coat emeralds with baby oil to protect them and make them less fragile.
The green color is the main characteristic of this gemstone because it is a variety of Beryl. Unlike aquamarine, it is considered a precious gemstone.
Facts about emeralds
- Birthstone of May
- Colors: bluish-green to green
- MOHS hardness value: 7.5-8
- Value: As with all gemstones, the emeralds grading system is the same. Color, cut, clarity, and carat.
- Healing properties: protects against evil spirits, cures disease, a symbol of truth and love
- Places to be found: Colombia and Zambia are the most significant mining areas
- Zodiac: Cancer
Types of semi-precious gemstones
Alexandrite is often described as “emerald in the day, ruby at night.” This chameleon mineral is a rare variety of chrysoberyl.
It is also can show different colors when viewed from separate locations. Colors can be green, orange, and purple-red.
Facts about Alexandrite
- Birthstone: June
- Colors: bluish-green and purplish-red
- MOHS hardness rate: 8.5
- Value: Stones with more than one carat are rare and expensive. Good-quality stones have fewer inclusions.
- Healing properties: recovering from illness, good blood circulation, and cleansing of the internal organs
- Places to be found: Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil
- Alexandrite is the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary.
Amethyst is a violet variety of Quartz. Amethyst is a semi-precious gemstone, but its value is not like the other stones. Due to extensive deposits in Brazil and other areas, its price is lower.
Synthetic amethyst is made to intimate the best quality, But there is a test that can tell if amethyst is lab-grown or a natural mineral.
Facts about Amethyst
- Birthstone: February
- Colors: Pale violet to deep purple
- MOHS hardness rate: 7
- Value: General low, highest-grade amethyst are rare, and the price depends on demand.
- Healing properties: enhances the immune system, reduces headaches, improves skin appearance, and regulates hormones.
- Places to be found: Brazil and fewer amounts in Africa, Russia, and the United States.
- Ancient Greeks believed that amethyst kept you from getting drunk.
- Amethyst is believed to bring peace and assist with meditation and restful sleep.
Aquamarine is named after the color of seawater and is available in large sizes. Prices are lower in the market because of that. In 1970, various deep blue aquamarine was founded and called maxixe, but they have disappeared from the market.
Be aware if someone offers you a deep blue aquamarine stone. It could be fake or lab-created. Ask a professional gemologist to test it with advanced instruments before buying.
Facts about Aquamarine
- Birthstone: March
- Colors: blue and green combinations
- MOHS hardness rate: 7.5-8
- Value: Prices depend on purity, depth of color, and clarity
- Healing properties: As a breath stone, it helps with lung and respiratory problems.
- Places to be found: Brazil, Madagascar, and the United States
- Aquamarine is the stone for the 19th anniversary
- As a sea stone, some believed that it protects sailors in the sea.
Citrine is another variety of Quartz and makes fine jewelry stones. It is available in large sizes, so cutters use their imagination to produce intricate cuts.
The recent years’ marketing and the “earth colors” fashion trend made this gemstone famous.
Facts about Citrine
- Birthstone: November
- Colors: yellow to red-orange
- MOHS hardness rate: 7
- Value: Depending on the color, inclusions will decrease value, depending on the cutting art.
- Healing properties: increase optimism, improve skills and powers, and improve mental clarity.
- Places to be found: Most are from Brazil, Africa, Russia, and the United States.
- The name means yellow. It was first named Yellow Quartz.
- Greta Garbo has citrine jewelry in her collection, and when she wears them, their popularity skyrockets.
The term garnet refers to a variety of gemstones. These gemstones come in several colors: red, orange, green, pink, and violet. But red garnets are the most popular variety.
Red garnets have been known for thousands of years. Egypt’s pharaohs were mummified and entombed with them as a possession for the afterlife.
Facts about Garnet
- Birthstone: January
- Colors: Virtually all colors, blue, green, and orange are rare and expensive
- MOHS hardness rate: 6.5-7.5
- Value: Prices can vary from $500 to some thousand depending on the color, cut, clarity, carat weight, and inclusions
- Healing properties: Helps with melancholy and depression. Also, it is believed that it helps with loving problems.
- Places to be found: The largest mine that produces around 90% of the world’s garnet is near New York.
- The term garnet refers to different gemstones. They all have different colors, but the most popular is red.
- Garnet is a symbol of lasting friendship.
- Garnets have many industrial uses, like sandblasting and water filtering, and it is used for steel cutting with water jets.
The name iolite comes from the Greek word violet. They often are compared to sapphire but have more of a purple tint.
Because it is an inexpensive gemstone, it is used as a substance of sapphire.
Facts about iolite
- Birthstone: September
- Colors: light to deep blue, but with a grey tint.
- MOHS hardness rate: 7-7.5
- Value: For 1-5 carats, the price can be about $50 per carat. The cost of larger gemstones can vary from $100 to $200.
- Healing properties: Iolite helps with inner strength and self-confidence and improves the capacity to have clear visions.
- Places to be found: Australia, North and South America, India, Bangladesh, and many other sites.
- Iolite is also called “water sapphire” or “Vikings compass” because it was used as a compass by the Vikings when the weather was cloudy to find the sun’s direction.
- Iolite is the gemstone for the twenty-first wedding anniversary.
- Iolite is used for men’s accessories, especially with tie pins and cufflinks.
Opal is a unique variety of semi-precious gemstones. Because it is made of up to 20% water, it is called a mineraloid instead of minerals that form from silica.
Opal has two variants: precious and common. The common opal has many different types. Milk opal, wood opal, resin opal, and others. All of these types describe how the mineral is formed with other materials.
Precious opal is a beautiful gemstone because it incorporates the colors of the rainbow.
There are five main categories of the opal stone:
- White or light opal. The background is white or grey colors
- Black opal. The location is black or dark.
- Fire opal or Mexican opal. The set has a red, yellow, or orange color
- Boulder opal. The stone becomes part of the surrounding rock
- Crystal or water opal. The background is transparent, showing clearly the rainbow colors.
Facts about Opal
- Birthstone: October
- Colors: all the colors you can imagine
- MOHS hardness rate: 5-6.5
- Value: Because there are so many minefields in Australia, each gem has a different matter. You must consider the opal stone’s color, pattern, and quality. Also, the carat or weight plays a significant impact on the price. Depending on the quality, you can find opal stones from $50 to $ 5,000 per carat.
- Healing properties: Freedom, independence, helps with anger, gives peace and joy.
- Places to be found: Australis, Ethiopia, and Central America (Nevada and Mexico)
- Queen Elizabeth II was gifted a necklace and earrings from /the people of South Australia in 1954 for her coronation.
Please read our article about Queens Elizabeth jewelry.
Olympic Australis. The world’s most famous opal
The Flame Queen opal.
Halley’s Comet Opal
Onyx is a chalcedony or a straightforward variety of agate. The name onyx comes from the Greek word ονυξ, meaning claw or nail.
The most famous variety is the black onyx; red onyxes are also popular semi-precious gemstones.
Keep in mind that most black onyx stones are artificially colored.
Check the earrings at bluenile.com
Facts about Onyx
- Birthstone: December
- Zodiac sign: Leo
- Colors: Black and red are the most popular, but onyx can be in any color
- MOHS hardness rate: 6.5-7
- Value: As with all semi-precious gemstones, the price can vary from US$5 to US$50 per carat. The price depends on whether it is artificially colored or synthetic, with the natural black onyxes costing the most.
- Healing properties: It can motivate and enhance self-control. It also helps with grief and treats bone disorders.
- Places to be found: In many places, mainly Brazil, India, and Uruguay.
- Onyx is supposed to be given on the seventh and tenth wedding anniversaries.
- Onyx is believed to absorb negative energy.
- Onyx was used in the 19th century for mourning jewelry
Check out this beautiful ring for men at etsy.com
Pearls have been the most popular types of gemstones for centuries.
Below, you will find the pearl categories.
- Natural pearls. They are scarce, and the cost today is very high, even for tiny pearls.
- Cultured pearls. Today, there are artificial pearl farms around the world. Not all cultured pearls are high quality.
- Saltwater pearls. Akoya cultured pearls (around 2mm to 10mm) are in this category. You can find them in the Japan and China Sea.
- Freshwater pearls. These pearls are grown in lakes, rivers, and ponds, mainly in China.
- Imitation pearls. These pearls are usually glass beads. It is elementary to separate imitation pearls from cultural or natural ones. There are some easy techniques that you can follow.
Learn more about pearls in our detailed article about 50 tips for pearls.
Facts about Pearl
- Birthstone: June
- Zodiac signs: Pisces, Leo, and Sagittarius
- Colors: The most popular colors are white, cream, black, gray, and silver
- MOHS hardness rate: 2.5
- Value: Depending on the quality. From US$200 to US$36.000 or more
- Healing properties: lowers anger, helps with depression, improves memory, assists with heart problems, and helps with fertility.
- Places to be found: Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Chinese Sea, the Philippines, and French Polynesia.
- Famous pearls: The most recognized pearl is the La Peregrina. It was sold in an auction in 2011 for US$12 million.
- The most expensive pearl in the world weighs 75 pounds and costs around US$100 million.
- Read more in the forbes.com article.
- Famous women who loved to wear pearls: Jackie Kenedy, Queen Mary, Cleopatra, Michele Obama, Princess Diana, and Coco Chanel.
Peridots are types of gemstones that are green in color, and many people confuse them with emeralds.
Depending on the percentage of iron in the stone,/ the peridot can have a light green to even dark green color.
Facts about Peridot
- Birthstone: August
- Zodiac sign: Cancer
- Colors: all the different green hues
- MOHS hardness rate: 6.5-7.0
- Value: Around US$50-70 per carat. But depending on the quality, they can sell at US$400.
- Healing properties: Many beliefs exist, but the most popular is that peridot protects from evil spirits, fears, and nightmares, but nothing is proven science
- Places to be found: United States, China, South Africa, Australia, and others.
- Most types of gemstones are formed in the earth’s crust, except peridot and diamond, which begin in the earth’s mantle.
- Peridots are the only semi-precious gemstones that have one color.
- Peridot is the traditional anniversary gem gift for the 16th anniversary.
- Famous Peridots: The shrine of the three Kings in Cologne, Germany.
Photo by Arminia. CC by 3.0
Spinels belong to durable types of gemstones. It is a unique gemstone because it can easily be confused with rubies.
That is why pink and red spinels are in high demand amongst jewelry specialists.
Facts about Spinel
- Birthstone: August
- Zodiac signs: Sagittarius, Scorpio, Taurus, and Aries.
- Colors: Pink to red and all shades of blue, violet, and green
- MOHS hardness rate: 8.0
- Value: Pink and red spinels cost from US$800 to $5,000 per carat, and the most expensive are cobalt blue, which is worth from US$2,000 to $8,000 per carat
- Healing properties: Helps with cancer healing and weight loss. It is effective in increasing physical power and stamina.
- Places to be found: Sri Lanka, many places in Africa, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Vietnam
- The most famous red spinel in the Imperial State Crown was named “Black Prince’s Ruby.”
- Spinels are beautiful octahedral crystals. They are high-priced and can be used in jewelry without being facetious.
- Synthetic spinels were first produced in the mid-19th century. Today, they are not sold so often because spinel is not as famous as the primary semi-precious gemstones (rubies and diamonds)
Tanzanites are semi-precious gemstones of blue and violet colors. They form only in a specific place in Tanzania.
The gemstone was created a hundred million years ago, and it is said that it is rarer than diamonds because it is found in one place only.
Facts about Tanzanite
- Birthstone: December
- Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
- Colors: blue and violet
- MOHS hardness rate: 6.5
- Value: For excellent quality Tanzanite stone, you can pay around US$200 to $350 (prices of July 2022)
- Healing properties: It can heal ears, eyes, skin, and lungs and boost the immune system
- Places to be found: Tanzania in Merelani Hills
- The government of Tanzania built a wall around the mining area in 2018 to control illegal mining and trading activities.
- Tanzanite is a good investment today because natural mines only have reserves for 20 years.
- Some semi-precious gemstones can reflect light from different angles. When light catches the stone, tanzanite colors can be blue, purple, or red.
- Tanzanite is the official 24th Wedding Anniversary stone.
Topaz stones are used as semi-precious gemstones in jewelry because they come in many colors and are durable.
Topaz is often treated with heat or radiation to change its colors.
Facts about Topaz
- Birthstone: November
- Zodiac sign: Scorpio
- Colors: common topaz is colorless, but gold, yellow, and blue are often
- MOHS hardness rate: 8
- Value: colorless and brow topaz costs around US$8 per carat. “Imperial topaz” in orange colors costs US$1,000 per carat.
- Healing properties: It disappears anger, fear, and sadness, warns its wearer of poisons, and protects him from sudden death.
- Places to be found: All over the world, with the most significant production in Brazil
- The largest topaz facet gemstone weighs 6.2kg and has 31,000 carats
- Topaz is the traditional gem for the 4th and 19th wedding anniversaries.
Tourmalines are semi-precious gemstones that have all the colors of the rainbow. The name translates to “stones with mixed colors.”
These gemstones are prevalent in the jewelry industry because they are durable and have hundreds of colors.
Facts about Tourmaline
- Birthstone: October
- Zodiac sign: Libra
- Colors: Many people like tourmalines because they have so many unique colors. You can not have a second stone with the same colors.
- MOHS hardness rate: 7.0-7.5
- Value: Prices can be as cheap as US$50 to $10,000 per carat, depending on the richness of the colors and the variety. The most expensive is the Paraiba tourmaline because it is rare and has a neon color.
- Healing properties: Encourage love and help with emotional pain. It is supposed to be a very spiritual stone.
- Places to be found: Many locations, with the most important in the United States, Brazil, and Africa.
- The largest Paraiba Tourmaline that holds the Guinness World record is called Appolo and weighs 196.17 carats.
Source.: Guinness World Records
- Cat eye Tourmaline is a scarce variety that looks like a cat’s eye.
From 200 different types, we described four precious and 15 semi-precious gemstones.
What are your favorite types of gemstones?
Do you like colors more or clear quality stones ready for a piece of fantastic jewelry?
Let us know in the comments what are your choice of semi-precious gemstones.
I am a professional writer, fashion blogger, and owner of the site https://laoutaris.com. As a salesperson for more than 20 years, I have experience of 10 years in the fashion industry. I consider myself a true fashionista. I am writing daily blog articles about fashion, tools and converters, and everything you need to know about the current fashion trends.
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