types of gemstones

20 Valuable Types Of Gemstones You Need To Know

They are more than 200 types of gemstones around the world. A gemstone is a mineral that is beautiful and durable, which is cut and polished to use in different decorations. Usually, these stones are used as religious symbols, decorative accessories, and pieces of jewelry.

Average time to read 18 minutes

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

Precious gemstones are diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. While Diamonds are the hardest stones, rubies and sapphires are very close to the hardness as well.

Only emeralds are slightly less hard stones. But they are still precious gemstones because they are included in the stone formations making them delicate.

citrine
Citrine in uncut form

Semi-precious gemstones

All the semi-precious gemstones are not as hard as diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. But they are durable and 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 cool details about gemstones.

Diamond

Diamonds are the hardest natural elements compared to other minerals. One other difference is that white diamonds mostly are used in the jewelry industry. These types of gemstones are in different categories for many people because of the market value, the official grading system, and that there are famous stones.

We have a complete article about diamonds (including the grading system) in secrets about diamonds.

diamonds

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. Gives the wearer strength, and courage, and protects him from danger.
  • Places to be found: Africa, Australia, Canada, and Russia.

Sapphire

Sapphires are an amazing choice in the jewelry industry. They come in many colors, from blue to pastel colors and even yellow. The color is what makes them so unique and depending on the quality of the stone the price can be more expensive than a diamond.

sapphire
Logan Sapphire with diamonds, 423 carat

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 popular sapphires are in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Australia, India (Kashmir)
  • Apple has consumed a large of the world’s supply to make iPhone camera lenses and fingerprint reader
  • The sapphire is the traditional gift for the 45th wedding anniversary

Ruby gemstone

When you are thinking of red stones rubies are the most popular types of gemstones. Many high jewelry designers are using rubies for their designs. One of the is graff, check the link here.

rubies
Rubies at the National Museum of Natural History

Facts about rubies

  • Birthstone of July
  • Colors: from pinkish red to blood-red.
  • MOHS hardness scale: 9
  • Value: As always grading is important. The color, clarity, and geographic origin are the price factor.
  • Healing properties: health, wisdom, and love
  • Places to be found: Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan Kashmir, and Mozambique are the most popular
  • Zodiac: Capricorn
rubies
Facts about rubies: The Sunrise Ruby. The most expensive colored gemstone sold in auctions except diamonds

Emeralds

Emerald is one of the special types of gemstones that are precious. It is not tough, which means if you have emerald jewelry it needs special attention. You can coat emeralds with baby oil to protect them and be 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.

emerald
The duke of Devonshire Emerald. The world’s largest uncut emerald. Photo from stonemania.co.uk

Facts about emeralds

  • Birthstone of May
  • Colors: bluish-green to green
  • MOHS hardness value: 7.5-8
  • Value: As with all types of 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 biggest mining areas
  • Zodiac: Cancer
emeralds
Facts about emeralds: The Bahia emerald weighs 341 kg. The estimated value of US$400 million.

Types of semi-precious gemstones

Alexandrite

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.

alexandrite

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

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 of amethyst, But the is a test that can tell if amethyst is lab-grown or a real mineral.

amethyst
Amethyst suite at the Museum of Fine Arts. England, 1870. Gold, diamond, amethyst, and pearl.

Facts about Amethyst

  • Birthstone: February
  • Colors: Pale violet to deep purple
  • MOHS hardness rate: 7
  • Value: General low, highest-grade amethyst are very rare and the price is dependent 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 United States.
  • Ancient Greek believed that amethyst kept you from getting drunk.
  • Amethyst is believed to bring peace, and assist with meditation, and restful sleep.

Aquamarine

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 a variety of deep blue aquamarine has 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.

aquamarine
The Dom Pedro aquamarine. The world’s largest cut aquamarine is located in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Facts about Aquamarine

  • Birthstone: March
  • Colors: blue and green combinations
  • MOHS hardness rate: 7.5-8
  • Value: Prices depend on purity and 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 United States
  • Aquamarine is the stone for the 19th anniversary
  • As a sea stone, some believed that protects sailors in the sea.

Citrine

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 latest years because marketing and the “earth colors” fashion trend made this gemstone popular.

citrine
Citrine from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Facts about Citrine

  • Birthstone: November
  • Colors: yellow to red-orange
  • MOHS hardness rate: 7
  • Value: Depending on the color, inclusions will decrease value, it all depends on the cutting art.
  • Healing properties: increase optimism, improve skills and powers, and improves mental clarity
  • Places to be found: Most are from Brazil, also from Africa, Russia, and 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.

Garnet

The term garnet refers to a variety of gemstones. These types of gemstones come in several colors: red, orange, green, pink, and violet. But red garnets are the most popular variety.

Red garnets are known for thousands of years ago. Egypt’s pharaohs were mummified and entombed with them as a possession for the afterlife.

garnet
Semi-precious gemstones like this garnet in a rare light green color.

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 is believed that 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 actually 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.

Iolite

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.

Iolite
Ring with iolite. A cheap solution for semi-precious gemstones

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 price can be about $50 per carat. For larger gemstones price can vary from $100-$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 places.
  • Iolite is called also “water sapphire” or “Vikings compass” because it is used as a compass by the Vikings when the weather was cloudy to find the direction of the sun.
  • Iolite is the gemstone for the twenty-first wedding anniversary.
  • Iolite is used for men’s accessories, especially with tie pins and cufflinks.

Opal

Opal is a special 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 2 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 background is black or dark
  • Fire opal or Mexican opal. The background has a red, yellow, or orange color
  • Boulder opal. The stone becomes part of the surrounding rock
  • Crystal or water opal. The background is clear 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 value. You have to give attention to color, pattern, and the quality of the opal stone. Also, the carat or weight plays a major impact on the price. You can find opal stones in the range of $50 to $5.000 per carat depending on the quality
  • 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 has been gifted a necklace and earrings from /the people of South Australia in 1954 for her coronation.
Opal
The Andamooka Opal

Read our article about Queens Elizabeth jewelry.

Olympic Australis. The Worlds most famous opal

Opal
Olympic Australis

The flame Queen opal.

Opal
The flame Queen opal sold for $120,000 in a Christie’s auction at 2020

Halley’s Comet Opal

black opal
The world’s largest uncut black opal

Onyx

Onyx is a chalcedony or simple a variety of agate. The name onyx comes from the Greek word ονυξ meaning claw or nail.

The most famous variety is the black onyx and red onyxes are also popular semi-precious gemstones

Keep in mind that most black onyx stones are artificially colored.

onyx earrings
Black onyx pear-shaped drop earrings

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 if it is artificially colored or synthetic, with the natural black onyxes costing the most.
  • Healing properties: It can motivate and enhance self-control. Also helps with grief and treats bone disorders.
  • Places to be found: In many places but mostly in 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
onyx ring
Black onyx ring, handmade, 925 sterling silver

Check out this beautiful ring for men at etsy.com

Pearl

Pearls are the most popular types of gemstones for centuries.

Below you will find the pearls categories

  • Natural pearls. They are extremely rare and the cost today is very high even for small pearls
  • Cultured pearls. Today they are man-made pearl farms around the world. Not all cultured pearls are high quality.
  • Saltwater pearls. In this category, they are Akoya cultured pearls (around 2mm to 10mm). You can find them in the Japan and China sea.
  • Freshwater pearls. These pearls are grown in lakes, rivers, and ponds mostly in China.
  • Imitation pearls. These pearls are usually glass beads. It is very easy 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: 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: Absolutely the most famous pearl is the La Peregrina. It was sold in an auction in 2011 for US$12 million.
La Peregrina
Elizabeth Taylor wearing the La Peregrina pearl in a Cartier necklace.
  • Famous women who loved to wear pearls: Jackie Kenedy, Queen Mary, Cleopatra, Michele Obama, Princess Diana, and Coco Chanel.

Peridot

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 from light green to even dark green color.

Peridot
Peridot ready to use as a gemstone

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 protects from evil spirits, fears, and nightmares, but nothing is proven science.
  • Places to be found: United States, China, Soth Africa, Australia, and others.
  • Most types of gemstones are formed in the earth’s crust, except peridot and diamond which formed 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.
The shrine of the Three Kings
The shrine of the Three Kings includes many large peridots. For many years it was believed that they were emeralds.

Photo by Arminia. CC by 3.0

Spinel

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 was in the Imperial State Crown named “Black Prince’s Ruby”.
red spinel
A rare uncut red spinel in front of the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom
  • Spinels are beautiful octahedral crystals. They are high-priced and can be used in jewelry without being facet.
  • 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 main semi-precious gemstones (rubies and diamonds)

Tanzanite

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 is rarer than diamonds because it is found in one place only.

tanzanite

Facts about Tanzanite

  • Birthstone: December
  • Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
  • Colors: blue and violet
  • MOHS hardness rate: 6.5
  • Value: For very good 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 build a wall around the mining area in 2018 to control illegal mining and trading activities
  • Tanzanite is a good investment today because the natural mines have reserves for 20 years only.
  • Some semi-precious gemstones have the ability to reflect light from different angles. Tanzanite colors can be blue, purple, or even red when the light catches the stone.
  • Tanzanite is the official 24th Wedding Anniversary stone.

Topaz

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.

topaz

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 and warns its wearer of poisons, and protects him from sudden death.
  • Places to be found: All over the world with the largest 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.
topaz ring
A “Mystic Topaz” ring

Tourmaline

Tourmalines are semi-precious gemstones that have all the colors of the rainbow. The name actually translates to “stones with mixed colors”.

These types of gemstones are very popular in the jewelry industry because they are durable and have hundreds of colors.

tourmaline

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 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 helps with emotional pain. It is supposed to be a very spiritual stone.
  • Places to be found: Many places with the most important in the United States, Brazil, and Africa.
  • The largest Paraiba Tourmelin that holds the Guinness World record is called Appolo and weighs 196.17 carats
tourmaline
The largest cut Paraiba Tourmaline is owned by Atelier Tom Munsteiner (Germany)

Source.: Guinness World Records

  • Cats eye Tourmaline is a very rare variety that looks like an eye of a cat.
tourmaline

Conclusion

From 200 different types, we described 4 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 amazing jewelry?

Let us know in the comments what are your choice of semi-precious gemstones.

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