The Blithe Designs gemstone guide is a quick reference to all of the gem stones commonly used in jewelry making. From Agate to Unakite, these photos and descriptions will help recognize gemstones at a glance.
Agate is a variety of Chalcedony Quartz and comes in many different forms. Varieties include Blue Lace, Crazy Lace, Green, Indian, Moss, Botswana Agate and Golden Agate. Agate is one of the oldest stones in our history. Agate has been admired by humanity for thousands of years. Its beauty and durability is often used in jewellery making. Agate stones make unique and beautiful jewellery. When Agate geodes are cut, sliced and polished they can be made into interesting pieces that are suitable for pendants and earrings. When Swarovski crystals and semi precious gemstones are added to the design of an Agate necklace or bracelet the result can be quite stunning
Alexandrite was discovered in 1830 in the Ural mountains of Russia. Alexandrite is also found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar. Alexandrite is typically found in blue, blue-green, and brownish-green shades. This rare gemstone has the ability to change color, depending on the light in which it is seen. It can look green in daylight and reddish purple in artificial light. Synthetic Alexandrites are produced in Japan and Russia. Beautiful additions to hand crafted jewellery are the high quality, handmade pressed Czech glass Alexandrite dagger beads.
Amber is the common name for fossil resin. The fossils are sometimes insects such as bees, grasshoppers, and butterflies. It is appreciated for its beauty and is often used in the making of beaded jewellery, pendants and amulets, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Pressed amber is usually even in color unlike natural amber which is never quite even. Amber ranges in colour from a dark, reddish brown to a translucent straw colour.
Amethyst is purple quartz and is the most valuable of the quartz gemstones. It can be found in many colors from violet to pale red-violet. The darker more intense colors are more valuable than the lighter smoky or lavender colours. Amethyst has been popular as a gem since Pre-Roman times. According to legend, Bacchus, the God of Wine, grew angry at mere mortals and vowed that the next mortal that he came across would be devoured by tigers. At that time, a beautiful maiden named Amethyst was on her way to worship the Goddess Diana, who turned Amethyst into a pillar of quartz to protect her from Bacchus´vow. Bacchus, witnessing what happened poured wine over Amethyst, staining her purple. Amethyst is used in jewellery making as faceted stones or polished cabochons and is often carved into interesting and varied shapes. Amethyst beads are used in necklaces, earrings and bracelets in its rough unpolished forms as well as smooth glossy shapes, faceted beads and briolettes. Some main sources of amethyst are Uruguay, Brazil and Africa. Amethyst is said to bring serenity and peace of mind, courage and inner strength.
Ametrine is a variety of quartz that contains amethyst and citrine as well as small traces of iron. It is found in a range of colors. It is either opaque or transparent yellow graduating to lavender or purple. Ametrine comes from the Anahi Mine in Bolivia. The mine became known in the seventeenth century when a Spanish conquistador received it as a dowry on his marriage to a princess named Anahi from the Ayoreos tribe. Ametrine was introduced to Europe through the Spanish conquistador’s gifts to the Spanish queen. It is usually faceted, due to its transparency which makes for excellent light reflection and makes wonderful beaded necklaces and bracelets. Ametrine can be combined with a variety of semi-precious stones in jewellery making. If you are drawn to amethyst and citrine jewellery then you will love Ametrine jewellery as well.
Apatite is a naturally occurring gemstone. The name Apatite comes from the Greek word apate which means “to deceive”. Apatite is best known for its green hues , similar in beauty to tropical waters, but it can be found in a variety of colours, such as yellow, white, neon blue, pink, violet, brown or light purple. The more intense the color, the higher the cost of the Apatite. Some sources of Apatite include Brazil, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Apatite necklaces, bracelets and earrings or jewellery pieces containing this beautiful gemstone would be a wonderful addition to an interesting jewelry collection.
Aquamarine is the blue-green variety of the mineral beryl. Aquamarine is colored by trace amounts of iron that find their way into the crystal structure. Aquamarine is known for its clear sky-blue color but is also found in a range of dark blues to blue-greens. Aquamarine gemstones are said to be attuned to the sea. Ancient sailors often traveled with aquamarine crystals, believing that it would ensure a safe passage. Two sources for Aquamarine are Brazil and Africa. Aquamarine combines well with Swarovski crystals in jewellery making and with shells and pearls in earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
Aventurine quartz. The name Aventurine comes from the Italian “a ventura,” which means “by chance”. This mineral is sometimes mistaken for jade. Aventurine contains inclusions of small crystals that reflect light and give a range of colors such as silvery, yellow, reddish brown, green, greenish-brown, peach, brown, blue, bluish green and a creamy green and orange. Aventurine is used in jewellery making. Aventurine combines well with crystals, pearls, amber and many other semi precious stones in the making of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Aventurine is found in India, Chile, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Austria, and Tanzania. A legend from ancient Tibet says that aventurine was used to improve nearsightedness and to increase the wearer’s creativity.
Beryl originates from Mesopotamia and was worshipped as a magic stone by the ancient Hebrews. The varieties of Beryl include emerald, aquamarine, morganite, heliodor, goshenite, golden beryl, violet beryl, blue beryl and pale green beryl. Their brilliance and hardness makes them suitable for use in jewellery making of bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Some sources of Beryl are Northern Europe, South Africa, North America and Colombia.
Carnelian is a form of quartz. Its translucent color ranges from yellow-orange to reddish-brown to a deep red. They may be slightly banded or of uniform colour. India has some of the oldest Carnelian deposits, especially around Bengal , Deccan and Ratnapur. Carnelian goes well with amber, citrine, jade, natural wood beads and Swarovski pearls to make beautiful necklaces, pendants, earrings and bracelets.
Chalcedony is a member of the quartz family. Chalcedony may be semitransparent or translucent and is usually white to gray, grayish-blue, brown, sometimes nearly black. Other shades have been given different names. Originally shaped into tools and containers, chalcedony eventually was used as jewellery. Necklaces with blue or yellow chalcedony cabochons, earrings of red chalcedony faceted drops or a simple strand of blue chalcedony beads with a sprinkling of Swarovski crystals are some examples of chalcedony beaded jewellery. Sources for chalcedony include Brazil, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Sri Lanka and Uruguay.
Citrine is a golden yellow form of quartz. Citrine is sometimes referred to as gold topaz, or Spanish topaz. Citrine stones were a prized stone among the Celtic and Scottish people. It can be found in Brazil and Bolivia. The most sought after citrine stones have a clear brilliant yellow to brownish red in colour. Citrine stones make exotic beaded jewellery, such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Citrine beads combine well with natural wood beads, amber and crystals in the making of original handcrafted jewellery.
Coral is an organic substance made by living sea corals found on reefs and in rocks. Red shades of coral are sometimes classified as gemstones. Red coral has been widely valued and used in Indian jewellery. Coral is also the classic material for carved cameos. Coral makes beautiful earrings, brooches, pendants and rings, necklaces, bracelets and more. Coral comes in red, blue, black and golden variations.
Some of the finest crystals produced today are the famous Swarovski crystals with their diamond like purity and brilliance. Another example of beautiful cut glass beads are those from the Czech Republic. These beads are machine faceted and polished by glazing inside a red-hot oven. Rock crystal is the name given to all clear colorless quartz. Crystal is widely used as an ornamental stone, and is also used as a gemstone and as imitation diamonds. The most well known ornamental carving for rock crystal is the crystal ball. Crystal and glass beads come in many different colors and shapes and make wonderful handmade beaded jewellery.
Cubic Zirconia is optically close to diamond. It is a synthetic gemstone that can be made in a variety of different colours by using certain metal oxides during the manufacturing process. Cubic Zirconia is much harder than most natural gems. Cubic Zirconia makes brilliant necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pendants and broaches.
Diamond, is the hardest mineral on earth. Its name comes from the Greek word adamas which means invincible. Diamonds come in different colours such as yellow, brown, green, blue, pink, red, gray and black, and of course clear which is the most popular. Diamonds are manly found in South Africa. They are graded by clarity, colour, cut and carat.
Emeralds are found in many countries, but Columbia and Brazil are the major producers. Cleopatra prized emeralds above all other gems. Emeralds make stunning earrings, necklaces, rings, pendants and more.
Fluorite is a colorful mineral. Its colors include purple, blue, green, yellow, colorless, brown, pink, black, reddish orange. Purple is the most popular colour but all of the other colours are also found in wonderful jewellery pieces. The word “fluorescent” comes from the mineral fluorite which commonly fluoresces blue and has been known to glow yellow, green, red, white or purple. All fluorite beads are transparent and translucent. It is a soft stone with a glassy luster, and makes beautiful necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Fluorite comes from Brazil, Canada, China, England, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, USA and more.
Garnet displays the greatest variety of color of any mineral, occurring in every color except blue. Some garnets exhibit a color-change phenomenon. They are one color when viewed in natural light and another color when viewed in incandescent light. Garnet jewellery comes in classic and modern styles of handcrafted necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pendants. Garnet beads combined with Swarovski crystals can make a stunning necklace.
Goldstone was identified as a stone in the Victorian era. This stone is man-made glass with flecks of sparking copper. It is given the status of a real stone. Goldstone is typically a brick red/brown with metallic flecks, although there are also blue and green varieties. Goldstone combines well with Bali silver beads, wood beads, pearls, crystals and many semi precious stones in the making of handcrafted beaded jewellery.
Hematite sometimes called black diamond is black to steel or silver-gray, brown to reddish brown, or red. Hematite together with Bali silver beads and brilliant Swarovski crystals combine well together to make stunning unique handcrafted beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Howlite is named after Henry How, a geologist from Nova Scotia, Canada. It is white and normally found in an opaque massive form. Howlite can be dyed to imitate other stones such as turquoise and lapis lazuli. Howlite beads and Czech fire polished crystals are a good combination in the making of unique handcrafted beaded jewellery. Howlite can be found in Nova Scotia, B.C., and California.
Iolite comes from the Greek word for violet. Iolite comes in sapphire blue to blue violet to yellowish gray to light blue. Iolite is thought of as ¨water sapphire¨. The Vikings used iolite as a light polarizer, using it to see through the haze and determine the exact location of the sun on overcast days. Iolite is found in Burma, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka. Iolite, crystals and semi-precious stones combine well together in the making of handcrafted beaded necklaces and bracelets.
Jade has held a special attraction for mankind for thousands of years. This gem comes in many shades of green, but also in shades of white, grey, black, yellow, and orange and violet. Only in the very finest jade is the colour evenly distributed. Jade with its fine luster makes beautiful cabochons, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Jadeitite is rarer and tougher than jade and often has patterns of streaks running through it. Jadeitite comes in hues such as blues, lavenders, mauves, and greens, pink and of course jade green. Jadeite is found in China, Russia and Guatemala, but the best stones come from Burma.
Jasper is an opaque type of quartz that can be red, yellow or brown. There are different types of jasper, such as ocean jasper and poppy jasper. Jasper was a favorite gem in ancient times and is referenced in Greek, Hebrew and Latin literature. It can be found in the United States. Jasper handcrafted beaded jewellery can be quite unique and exotic looking. A strand of Ocean jasper and lampwork beads or a chunky bracelet of rain forest jasper or a stunning pair of faceted jasper earrings can all be wonderful additions to your collection of original one of a kind beaded jewellery.
Kunzite is a gemstone which comes in many colors, including white, pink, yellow, blue and green. This gemstone with its lovely range of colours is sought after in jewellery making.
Labradorite is a gray black or brownish gem stone which has a stunning play of colours. Tints of blue, green, yellow, red, gold and purple. Labradorite is named after the peninsula of Labrador in Canada. Sources for labradorite include Canada, Australia, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia and the United States. Labrodrite can be found in handcrafted jewellery, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and more.
Lapis lazuli with its opaque deep blue colour is timeless and classic. It has been used in many of the ancient treasures found in Egypt. In ancient times, lapis lazuli was known as sapphire. Lapis lazuli is very much sought after in jewellery making today. Beautiful blue lapis and delicately soft white Swarovski pearls are a great combination for a must have handcrafted beaded necklace or bracelet. Some sources of lapis are Agfhanistan and Chilie. This semi-precious stone is prized all over the world.
Larimar is sometimes called the “Jewel of the Caribbean”. It is mined in the ocean of the Dominican Republic. Larimar is volcanic material and some stones have coral embedded within. Because it is volcanic material, it is very hard and therefore difficult to cut or drill into beads, but some beautiful jewellery pieces are made using this exotic stone.
Malachite is an altered form of copper. Its dark and light green bands are unique. Malachite makes interesting and beautiful jewellery and looks fantastic when strung with white Swarovski pearls. Other stones such as coral, azurite, jasper and onyx are used together with malachite in jewellery making. Malachite is often used in jewellery making in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The moonstone gem stone resembles a pearl. Moonstone is so opalescence that it brings to mind moonshine. Moonstone beads have many colours. The traditional moonstone is blue/white gloss but there are many other colours including yellow, peach, pink, green, rainbow, and silver sheen. Moonstone jewellery can be worn as rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. The finest moonstone comes from Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Morganite is named after the wealthy banker J.P. Morgan. Morganite is pink, rose, lavender or peach beryl. It was first discovered in California and it was also discovered in 1908 in Madagascar. There are also deposits in Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, and Russia. The largest faceted morganite is a 598.70-carat cushion-shape from Madagascar in the collection of the British Museum.
Obsidian is very black, shiny, volcanic glass. It can be made into beautiful jewellery. Obsidian beads can be strung with many other interesting beads including Bali beads and grey or black pearls to make fashionable necklaces and bracelets.
Legend says that one day while Venus was sleeping Cupid cut her fingernails and left the nail clippings scattered on the ground. The gods turned her nail clippings into stone which later became known as onyx. Onyx has a black colour and fine texture, but some onyx is reddish brown with red or white bands against a black or brown background and this variety is known as sardonyx. Onyx is a chalcedony quartz that is mined in Brazil, India and Uruguay. Onyx is often used in jewellery making of necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pendants and more.
There are three types of Opal found in nature. Common Opal, Precious Opal and Fire Opal. Laboratories today can produce opals that are similar to those found in nature. Opal displays a brilliant range of colors when seen from different angles. As the stone is moved, the colors change and look different from different angles. Primary sources include Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Nevada and Idaho. Handcrafted jewellery offers a stunning range of African Opal, Mexican Fire Opal, Australian and Peruvian Opal beaded necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pendants in an amazing array of colors and shapes. A unique handcrafted necklace strung with green African opal olive beads mixed with natural wood beads or a necklace made with white faceted ovals and faceted horizontal teardrop beads and Swarovski crystals are both exotic necklace designs.
Pearl is a valuable gemstone and is cultivated for use in jewellery making. Pearls are usually white, sometimes with a creamy or pinkish tinge, but may be tinted with yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, or black. Pearls fit into two categories: freshwater and saltwater. Freshwater pearls are formed in freshwater mussels. Saltwater pearls grow in oysters that live in the ocean. Before the creation of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were rare and expensive. Pearls are used in the making of handcrafted beaded necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Pearls combine well with many different semi-precious stones and crystals to make unique one-of-a-kind beaded necklaces and bracelets.
Peridot with its rich green colour is a beautiful gemstone. The Romans called Peridot “Evening Emerald¨. Peridot cat’s eyes and star peridot are particularly rare and precious. The most beautiful stones come from the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Olivine is also known as Peridot. It is a mineral found on the Earth the Moon and Mars. Peridot can be found in handcrafted one-of-a-kind beaded jewellery and in jewellery of semi-precious stones, crystals and pearls.
Rhodochrosite means rose-colored. The name is derived from the Greek ‘Rhodon’ meaning ‘Rose’ and ‘Chroma’ meaning ‘Color’. This beautiful stone comes in a range of color from pale pink, pale to deep red, almost white, yellow and brown. Rhodochrosite can be found in handcrafted jewellery including earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants.
Rose Quartz is a desirable variety of quartz in jewellery making. Rose quartz is used as a gemstone. It ranges in color from pink to deep red. Beautiful cabochons, necklaces, pendants, bracelets and earrings are made from Rose quartz. Rose quartz is found in places such as Madagascar, India and Brazil.
Ruby is a red gemstone. Along with sapphires, emeralds and diamonds, it’s considered one of the four precious gems. Rubies come in shades of red, red purple and red orange. An ancient Sanskrit name for ruby can be translated as “king of precious stones”. Sources include Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, and Vietnam.
Rubellite is a gemstone variety of the Tourmaline group. Valued for its ruby color, it exhibits a range of color from pink to red, sometimes with a violet tint. Sources include Brazil, Afghanistan, Australia, Burma (Myanmar), India, Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Zambia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Rubellite can be found in necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
Sapphire appears in a rainbow range of breathtaking hues. Some of the most desired sapphires come from Kashmir, India. While sapphire can come in a variety of colors, such as pink and orange, it is most noted for the color blue. Sapphires other than blue are often referred to as “fancy sapphire.” Like rubies, sapphires are one of the hardest and most durable materials on earth.
Sodalite is a dark blue mineral with streaks of white. Sodalite is known for its rich royal blue colour but can be white, gray or green. In jewellery making Sodalite is used as beads in necklaces, pendants, earrings and bracelets. Some sources for Sodalite are Brazil, India, Italy and Canada.
Some of the most famous rubies in history are actually red spinel. Its durability and beauty make spinel an ideal gemstone in jewellery making. Spinel exhibits a wide range of colors including red, pink, orange, yellow, brown, blue, violet, purple, green and black. Spinel deposits are in Burma, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia.
Sunstone is a gemstone in the feldspar group that exhibits sheen. Sources for the best sunstone include Tvedestrand and Hitero on the South Coast of Norway. Sunstone rondelle and oval beads, and sunstone faceted and smooth beads are often used in handcrafted one of a kind beaded jewellery.
This gem’s popularity is greatly owed to Tiffany & Co. from which it got its trade name after the gem was discovered in Tanzania. Tanzanite has naturally occurring shades of blue, green, yellow, pink, brown and khaki but are heat treated to produce the highly valued shades of sapphire blue, amethyst and blue violet. Beautiful blue tanzanite beaded necklaces, bracelets and earrings make wonderful unique gift.
Tiger´s Eye is sometimes called Cat´s Eye. A legend has it that Roman soldiers wore tiger´s eye for protection in battle. This semi-precious stone with its rich yellow/golden colour and golden brown stripes is often used in the making of beaded jewellery. Tiger Eye quartz can be found in South Africa.
Tourmaline is a fascinating mineral that can actually exhibit two or more colors in one crystal. It possesses one of the widest color ranges, reproducing every conceivable color in the universe. Brazil is an important supplier of tourmaline. Tourmaline is fairly hard and durable, making it very wearable and an ideal gem for jewellery. Tourmaline faceted briolettes and rondells, tourmaline cabochons and tourmaline chipped and tumbled beads are all used in the making of fine handcrafted one of a kind jewellery pieces.
Turquoise is one of the oldest stones known. It was first mined in the Sinai desert over 6,000 years ago. Turquoise has been valued by different cultures for its beauty for over 7,000 years. Turquoise is opaque, blue-to-green. The traditional blue/green turquoise beads in rondells, pendants, nuggets, discs and ovals are widely used in handcrafted jewellery making of necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The largest quantities of Turquoise are in the south west of America.
Unakite is a granite rock. These natural stones have varying patterns and colours such as reddish orange, green and almost white. Unakite is widely used in jewellery making.