Gemstone Reference Page

Please use this page as a reference for gemstone colors, color variations, and for a bit of anecdotal information that we've learned about these semi-precious stones.

The list is presented in alphabetical order so that you can easily find the gemstones you are looking for. The stones are usually available in many different shapes and configurations - but we tend to use donuts or heart pendants for our pictures, since a large, flat surface tends to best show the characteristics of each stone. If more than one picture is shown, the pictures show some of the variation that you might expect to see in the gemstone.

Agate, Blue Lace
Blue Lace Agate
A naturally occuring agate that features delicate bands of pale blues and white. Smaller beads or pendants may show less banding than the larger stones. Lately, the rough stone has been difficult to get, so when our current stocks are depleted, we may not have more of a certain shape for an unknown period of time.

Agate, Crazy Lace
Crazy Lace Agate
Detailed wavy bands of creamy whites, tans, browns, golds, black and sometimes pinks make up this lovely, interesting agate.

Agate, Moss
Moss Agate
Moss Agate gets is color from greenish, moss-like inclusions that come from a mineral called chlorite. Sometimes there will be so many inclusions that the beads will look almost black - but when you hold it up to the light, you will see the inclusions. Moss Agate can also be almost clear - or have white or light green inclusions. A web oriented note: It can sometimes be very difficult to take a good picture of Moss Agate - because the picture taking method tends to eliminate many of the 'greens'.

Russian Amazonite Chinese Amazonite
Russian Amazonite, Chinese Amazonite
Amazonite is a mostly opaque stone that can range in color from very pale bluish green (Chinese Amazonite) to deep turquoise green (Russian Amazonite). Our pendants are made from the Chinese form, unless otherwise noted.

Amber, Baltic
Baltic Amber
Amber is the fossilized, hardened resin from pine trees that lived about 50 million years ago. Most deposits of Amber are found in the Baltic region. Amber sometimes has tiny air bubbles, fracture lines or tiny inclusions (insects or parts of plants can sometimes be seen). Amber is very soft and can also be affected by acids or solvents. It can also be ignited by a match and will smell like incense (a pleasant smell). Amber is extremely light weight - people who are unfamiliar with it can mistake it for plastic, especially if there are few inclusions in the specimen. If synthetic Amber tested with the match method - it will smell like plastic, not incense.

Amber tends to turn Sterling and Silver-plated findings black, so you may want to select gold-plated findings when making selection in Amber.

Amethyst Round beads Crstyal Amethyst, pale Amethyst color Chevron Amethyst gemstone
Amethyst is actually a naturally occuring violet form of quartz. It is usually found in geodes of volcanic rocks. Amethyst prices vary widely based on color (very dark purple to very pale), clarity (inclusions), and cut/shape. When the color is as light as the center picture (donut), we call it "Amethyst Crystal" so that you know you are getting very lightly colored Amethyst.

Aqua Aura
Clear Quartz with Aqua Aura surface coating
Aqua Aura is natural, clear quartz that has a permanent transparent, somewhat iridescent blue surface treatment. The exact process is a trade secret, but is said to be a combination of heat, pressure and exposure to vaporized pure gold. The gold is permanently bonded to the crystal structure of the quartz, creating the surface color. Since this is a surface treatment, care should be taken not to scratch the surface.

"Gem quality" Aragonite (the type used for calibrated and faceted stones) tends to be transparent and faintly green. The type used for beads and donuts (the type carried on our Jewelry Plus store) is pale yellow and is translucent to somewhat opaque. This is a very soft stone, so handle and store it with care. An interesting fact is that Pearls and Mother of Pearl are made primarily of Aragonite - pearl oysters and mussels utilize this mineral in the production of nacre.

Aventurine (Green)
Green Aventurine
Aventurine comes in several colors - but the most common in the bead world is the green. Aventurine is actually a greenish quartz that often contains tiny flakes of mica which give this stone it's depth and occasionally, a somewhat metallic appearance. This gemstone can vary in color from very pale, translucent green to deep, dark green and almost opaque.

Azurite Malachite
Azurite Malachite, natural form
Azurite and Malachite are gemstones that are found in association with copper ores. While these two stones can be found together in nature - there is not enough raw material to satisfy demand. Products on Jewelry Plus will be clearly marked "natural" or "reassembled". In some cases, the stone combination will actually be Malachite and Lapis - and that too, will be marked.

Bloodstone gemstone round beads
Bloodstone (sometimes also called Heliotrope) is an opaque or vitreous green stone with red/yellow spots. The stone is not jasper, but a dark green Chalcedony (crypto-crystalline quartz) with inclusions of red to brown. The luster of this stone can be anywhere from vitreous to waxy. The name Bloodstone comes from Christian's belief that the stone was created/symbolizes drops of Christ's blood falling on it. There are many sources for bloodstone worldwide.

Carnelian Agate
Carnelian Agate Donut Carnelian Agate round gemstone beads
Carnelian Agate is a bright red-orange to a deep, brown-orange chalcedony. Small beads will appear to be more translucent; large beads will appear more opaque. Items referred to as "Chinese Carnelian" will tend be more translucent and may have bands of lighter orange or clear/white.

Chalcedony, Blue
Blue Chalcedony
Chalcedony is bluish-grey-white gemstone. It can be rather translucent, with a waxy look to it - varying to somewhat opaque. It usually is prefixed by the word "Blue" to distinguish it from the geologist's term "chalcedony" meaning a "crypto-crystalline quartz". The blue form is the best known version of this type of gemstone.

Chalcedony seems very smooth and hard when polished, but it actually is microscopically porous, making it easy to dye. In fact, if you accidentally splash coffee on your chalcedony pendant, it can stain the stone - so be sure to rinse any spills with lots of water immediately.

Chrysocolla, natural form
Chrysocolla is a mostly blue-green gemstone color with brown or black inclusions. It has a somewhat dull luster.

Sponge Coral donut Bamboo coral, dyed Pink
Sponge Coral, Bamboo Coral (dyed pink)
Sponge Coral is an organic gem composed of calcium carbonate and carotene. When polished and smooth, this precious material has visible pores, like a sponge. It's typically warmer in color and ranges anywhere from white, orange, and pink to black. Good quality coral has no fissures, spots, bands, or cavities and is rare. Often coral is enhanced to improve color and durability.

Bamboo coral is a readily available (non-endangered) coral that is typically off white to tan in color. It is commonly dyed or bleached to look like more expensive (and endangered) coral. Our coral products are dyed with permanent, non-bleeding dyes.

Crinoid Fossil
Crinoid Fossil
Crinoid Fossil is a fossilized sea lily. Greys, creams and black make up the background of this gemstone. Usually (but not always) there will be some level of pinks mixed in this agate.

This green to apple green gemstone is considered one of the most valuable of the chalcedony group. The color comes from the presence of Nickel during the formation of the stone. Note that the color can vary greatly - and that there often are inclusions in the yellow, white and brown color tones. Chrysoprase can be adversely affected by heating - so be careful if you are soldering near this stone.

Dumortierite Donut bead
A deep blue stone, with occasional small traces of grey to cream inclusions (most bead related items are made from Dumortierite aggregate, rather than Dumortierite crystal). The aggregate is equivalent to quartz in hardness, though.

Multi color Fluorite Fluorite donut
The Fluorite items we carry tend to be shades of purple, pale green, and almost clear stone. It is very common to see horizontal bands of color in this gemstone, as shown by the picture. Fluorite can also be found in a range of other colors, including yellow and gold tones and even blue tones. This is a very soft stone and is prone to scratching and fracturing.

The name of this gemstone comes from the fact that it fluoresces strongly under certain light sources. Nevertheless, it is often mis-spelled "Flourite" (having nothing to do with flour!)

Garnet Green Garnet
Garnets are gemstones that are usually shades of red, but span the color spectrum. They may be opaque to transparent and are vitreous to resinous in luster. Red Garnet used for the bead market is often dyed to enhance the color. While the dye is colorfast (in the stone) it is wise to rinse them before using to remove any remaining dye on the surface.

Goldstone is not gold and it is not a 'stone'. It is a man-made material made from tiny copper flakes suspended in copper colored glass. At one time, this material was called "Monkstone", because the process of making it was originated by an Italian monk.

Goldstone, Blue
Blue Goldstone
Similar to the Goldstone, above, this material is not a 'stone' or 'rock', but are tiny copper flakes in colored blue glass. The material is so dark blue that it sometimes looks black.

Hematite is a mineral (iron oxide), not a rock (as many gemstones are). It is shiny, metallic black. Items on the website are all natural Hematite. Hematite is extremely abrasive to the cutting tools that are used in bead and pendant making, so many of the products in the bead market are actually a man-made substitute that is sometimes called Hematine (and other similar names). We mark any Hematite that we know is man-made (examples can be found on our website). The man-made form of Hematite is slightly magnetic - so you can test any item you may have by using a strong magnet.

Howlite, Lapis
Howlite, dyed Lapis blue
Howlite is a nice, white stone that is commonly dyed to look like much more expensive stones. Lapis Lazuli is expensive - Lapis Howlite is dyed to look a bit like it. VERY dyed. Usually the dye job is pretty good. The rinse job sometimes is not. Please soak items made from this material in the sink before using them!

Howlite, Purple
Howlite, dyed purple
Purple Howlite is dyed to look like Sugulite, a very expensive gemstone. Web-like black streaks often characterize this mineral. It polishes well and has a porcelaneous luster, often crystals are opaque to translucent. Howlite is mined largely in California.

Howlite, Turquoise
Howlite, dyed Turquoise
Just like the Howlite Lapis, above, this stone has been dyed to look like a much more expensive stone. Turquoise is expensive - Turquoise Howlite is dyed to look a bit like it. This product usually is not dyed as much as the Lapis Howlite. Still, please soak these in the sink before using them!

Howlite, White
White Howlite Donut White Howlite pendant
Howlite in it's natural form is quite white, completely opaque, and usually has faint grey to black matrix marks throughout. The samples shown here are about as dark of matrix as we ever see - usually it will be fainter.

Hydro-Thermal Materials - "H-T"
Hydro thermal amethyst donut Hydro thermal blue topaz Hydro thermal citrine faceted teardrops Hydro thermal peridot
These materials are quartz, ground to fine powder with the mineral substance of the natural mineral (for instance cobalt for the Blue Topaz) to achieve the natural mineral color. Water, heat and pressure are added to grow the crystals. Since the impurities that naturally occur in nature are not in the lab environment, the resulting material is quite clear and beautiful.

The color of these products is permanant and is consistent all the way through the piece (not a surface application). Since the material is made from quartz, it will have the same characteristics (such as hardness).

We carry H-T products in a number of colors: Amethyst (purple), Blue Topaz (light blue), "Siberian Blue" Topaz (darker blue), Citrine (Yellow), Peridot (light peridot green) and "Emerald Peridot" (dark peridot green).

Jade, Burma
Burma Jade, aka Jadeite
A Jadeite from Burma (see Jade). Tends to be more expensive than Nephrite Jade. In the bead industry, it is sometimes just called "Jadeite" - even though gemologists recognize many forms of Jadeites.

Jade, Green
BC Green Jade
Jade can form in a huge variety of colors - but the most familiar to most people is Green Jade. It can vary in tone from medium green to quite dark, blackish green - but our stock tends to be somewhere in the middle of that range. The term 'Jade' can refer to either one of two separate minerals: Jadeite or Nephrite, the Nephrite being the more common. In China, Jade has been used for carving for about 7000 years. Most of our products will be listed as "BC Jade" - meaning that the Jade comes from deposits in British Colombia, Canada.

Jade, White
White Jade
White Jade used in the bead market is probably not Jade. The stone used as White Jade is semi-translucent with somewhat opaque inclusions dispersed evenly through the stone, giving a Jade-like appearance. The stone is reasonably hard (takes on a good polish).

Jasper, Brecciated
Brecciated Jasper Poppy Jasper Poppy Jasper with white materail
Poppy Jasper, range of color variety
Sometimes used interchangeably with the name "Poppy Jasper", Brecciated Jasper tends to be the darker form of this stone: deep reds, many shades of browns, and tans characterize this stone. As in all jaspers, the stone is opaque. You may very occasionally see a patch of translucent (uncolored) agate in some Brecciated or Poppy Jasper items.

Jasper, Dalmation
Dalmation Jasper Dalmation Jasper Dog pendant
This jasper has black and brown spots on a beige to tan background - and is named after the coat of the Dalmation dog breed, which is similar in appearance.

Jasper, Fancy
Fancy Jasper
This picture shows only part of the color range that you may find in Fancy Jasper. In large flat pieces, like donuts, you tend to get mostly one color in the piece, similar to the picture shown. In round beads, you tend to get a mix of colors on the strand, usually about 1/3 are darker green tones, and the rest will be a mixture of colors. This gemstone is sometimes referred to as "India Agate", even though it is usually opaque. It is also closely related to Moss Agate and you will sometimes see "mossy" areas of color in the gemstone.

Jasper, Leopardskin
Leopardskin Jasper round beads Leopardskin Jasper Donut, pink form Leopardskin Jasper donut, shows both pink and tan forms
Leopardskin Jasper is the easiest gemstone to identify. First, it has those wonderful leopard-like spots in tones of browns, creams and often in pinks. If you are still not sure, sniff it! If smells faintly like gasoline, you know for certain (well ventilated Leopardskin will lose this smell after a while).

Jasper, Ocean
Ocean Jasper Leaf, variety of color Ocean Jasper donut
Ocean Jasper is volcanic in origin. The gemstone is rich in silica and is the product of a rhyolitic flow (compare the patterns in this stone to those found in Rhyolite). The rough gemstone comes from a deposit in Madagascar. It can have a huge range of color variation - from white, grey and beige, to pinks and yellows, to a vast range of green tones.

Jasper, Picture
Picture Jasper leaf bead Picture Jasper donut
Picture Jasper is a chalcedony that is rendered opaque by iron ore. The iron deposits form fascinating patterns of creams, browns and grey/blacks that can look like an abstract painting. Sometimes, this jasper is also called Landscape Jasper because the patterns can look like trees or other landscape features.

Jasper, Poppy
Please see Brecciatted Jasper.

Jasper, Rainforest
Please see Rhyolite.

Jasper, Red
Red Jasper donut Red Jasper gemstone
Red Jasper is a brick red jasper that can vary between quite dark reddish brown to a rather bright red. It can occasionally include inclusions of white/creamy agate or thin black lines.

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli donut, in Sterling Silver holder, garnet cabochon
A gemstone that has been used for thousands of years for human adornment - many samples of this beautiful blue stone have been found in Egyptian tombs and in other archaeological digs. This gemstone is formed from a number of minerals - important ones being Sulfur (the coloring agent), Calcite (controls how many white inclusions occur in a particular piece) and Pyrite (gives sparkle and depth). "Lazuli" is derived from the same Latin word as "Azure" - hence: Blue Stone.

Lapis Lazuli, "Mixed"
Lapis Lazuli, color variation Lapis Lazuli facet point, Sterling Silver mount
This is the same gemstone as that above, just a lower grade. Actually there are many difference grades of this stone that are used in the gemstone bead market - with various industry names attached ("denim lapis", "Lapis B", etc). Exact guidelines don't exist - but this Lapis will have more inclusions of Calcite and other materials making it less of a solid, deep blue.

Lapis Nevada
Lapis Nevada
This is a beautiful opaque gemstone in shades of light green, pink and cream. Depending on the minerals present in the rock, the color tones and hardness may vary. The stone was discovered in the State of Nevada in 1954 — "Nevada" is also the Spanish adjective for "snow covered" — either source seems like a good inspiration for the gemstone name. To complete the etymology lesson, the word "Lapis" comes from the Latin word for "stone".

Lepidolite ranges from lilac to rose-violet in color. The luster of this gemstone can range from vitreous (glassy) to pearly, and can range from transparent to translucent. This mineral is found in several sources, including the United States, South America, Europe and Africa. In the bead market, it is common to hear this stone referred to as "Flower Sugulite", even though it is not Sugulite.

Malachite gemstone beads Malachite Donut
Malachite is found in association with copper deposits and derives it's lovely variety of green colors from those minerals. It is somewhat soft and should be treated with care to preserve it's glossy finish. Most of our products will display some degree of Malachite's desirable 'banding'.

Marcasite is a mineral that is very similar to pyrite and is usually yellow to yellow brassy, sometimes with green hues and a metallic luster. Marcasite can cause sterling silver findings to oxidize more quickly than usual.

Multi color Moonstone Rainbow Moonstone
Peach, Grey and Cream Moonstone (often strung in a "tricolor" arrangement), Rainbow Moonstone
Moonstone is a pearly white stone that can range from colorless to brown and everything in between. It generally has a silky luster with a blue or white sheen and ranges from transparent to translucent, resembling moonshine. The cause of its luminescence is due to the internal structure of the stone, which causes light rays to be refracted and scatter. They are found in Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Europe, and Madagascar.

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl, bleached white Mother of Pearl, natural color
Bleached Mother of Pearl, Unbleached Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl is the common name for an iridescent blend of calcium carbonate secreted by oysters and other mollusks, also known as nacre. It's naturally iridescent in color, and bleached varieties may appear white. Mother of pearl beads may also be dyed a variety of different colors.

Obsidian, Black
Black Obsidian Donut
Obsidian is a rock formed from volcanic glass. In the case of Black Obsidian, the stock is uniformly black, opaque, and polishes to a shiny surface finish.

Obsidian, Mahogany
Mahogany Obsidian
Mahogany obsidian is a vitreous, translucent, natural glass that is red in color and often has darker red and/or black spots.

Obsidian, Snowflake
Snowflake Obsidian Donut Snowflake Obsidian
These white 'snowflakes' are a natural formation in black obsidian. They occur as part of the cooling and crystallization process of molten volcanic glass.

Onyx, Black
Black Onyx
A black, glossy, hard stone that actually is a black form of chalcedony. While "true onyx" has banded color layers, black onyx will be uniformly black. This gemstone tends to take on a more shiny polish than Black Obsidian or "Blackstone".

Pietersite can range anywhere from gold, red, blue, brown with any combination of these colors. The gemstone itself is a combination of many that have been broken apart and re-cemented with silica (brecciation). Because of this, the patterns of colors throughout the stones are variable. It has a silky, fibrous luster. Pietersite is found only in China and Namibia.

Quartz, Clear
Clear Quartz Beads Clear Quartz
This is another gemstone that is called by many names. Common ones are "Rock Crystal" and "Crystal Quartz". The name describes it: quartz that is clear and colorless. Most pieces will have a bit of depth provided by small impurities or tiny fracture lines in the crystal.

Quartz, Rose
Rose Quartz donut Rose Quartz gemstone
Lovely, pink quartz - a perennial favorite. Our products are undyed, unless noted in the comments with a specific product.

Quartz, Rutilated
Rutilated Quartz
Rutilated Quartz comes in a variety of colors and ranges from colorless to yellow, brown, purple, and gray. It is vitreous in luster and ranges from opaque to transparent. Rutile is titanium dioxide, often forming needle-like structures within quartz. When quartz is rutilated it looks like small bars of gold are embedded in it. It can be difficult to attain a smooth surface without any pits because of the differences of hardness between rutile and quartz.

Quartz, Tourmalinated
Tourmalinated Quartz
Tourmalinated Quartz is transparent quartz that contains needles of black tourmaline, with a luster that can range anywhere from vitreous to dull. It's valued because of the tourmaline inclusions. Tourmalinated quartz is one of the more rare members of the Included Quartz group. It is similar to rutilated quartz and is largely found in Brazil and California.

Rhodochrosite used for beading products is formed in caves and primarily comes from Argentina. The deposits appear as stalagmites. This gemstone is relatively rare, especially in the color we carry: mostly pinks, lots of creamy white banding, and almost no grey, yellowish or black inclusions.

Rhodonite Donut, black matrix Rhodonite Rhodonite, yellow to white inclusions
Rhodonite forms in manganese ore veins - the black matrix that you often seen in the stone is manganese oxide. Generally, this stone is an opaque pink - sometimes bright, sometimes a duller pink. The black matrix can be predominate - or nonexistent. Occasionally, we even see yellowish or white traces in the stone.

Rhyolite aka "Rainforest Jasper"
Rainforest Jasper Rainforest Jasper, brown coloration Rainforest Jasper, green predominant
This jasper features a multitude of greens, with occasional leopard-like spots of cream, brown or even orange. Other gemstone stock can be primarily brown, with tan and cream-colored markings. Sometimes, the name of this stone is also spelled "Riolite".

Ruby in Zoisite
Ruby in Zoisite
Ruby in Zoisite is a combination of green zoisite rock with black hornblende and large rubies. The colors within this gemstone include bright green and rose-pink to purple. These gemstones are usually translucent to opaque with a pearly or sub vitreous luster. Geologists refer to this gemstone as "Anyolite."

Serpentine New Jade
Common Serpentine color, "New Jade" color form
Serpentine refers to a mottled, scaly mineral that imitates jade. It is usually opaque to translucent, and may be vitreous, greasy, or silky in luster. Colors range from white to grey, yellow to green, and brown to black. It is often splotchy or veined, and inter grown with other minerals. Sources are worldwide. A pale green, translucent form of this gemstone is commonly referred to as "New Jade" in the bead market.

Sodalite, dark form Sodalite, light form
Sodalite is a rich blue to blue-grey stone. It sometimes has veins of white calcite to brighten things up.

Spiral Shell
Spiral Shell
Spiral Shell is composed of polished, shaped sea shells. They are naturally shades of off-white with a pearly luster. Also see Mother of Pearl.

Sunstone Sunstone, brown form
Sunstone is a naturally occuring gemstone found in India and in the state of Oregon, among other places. Don't confuse this with man-made Goldstone! It's unique feature is a deep golden-orange sparkle that comes from the depths of the stone. Geologists call this gemstone "Aventurine Feldspar".

Tiger Eye
Tigereye Donut
Tiger Eye is actually a quartz that contains numerous inclusions of fibrous, golden yellow oxidized minerals. When cut and polished, these inclusions give the effect of looking into an 'eye'.

Tiger Iron
Tiger Iron Half Donut Tiger Iron gemstone
Tiger Iron is a stone that is often found in association with Tigereye. Some gemstone resources refer to it as "Tigereye Matrix" - since it is a mineral aggregate that has layers of Tigereye alternating with layers of iron oxide (think: hematite). Products will be a dark chocolate brown with occasional streaks of red and gold shimmers.

Turquoise, Chinese
Chinese Turquoise Chinese Turquoise, variation of color
Turquoise is a somewhat soft gemstone occuring in various shades of blue and green, often with matrix interspersed (tones of black, brown and white). This picture shows only a fraction of the possible color tones that can be encountered. Chinese Turquoise obviously comes from deposits in China - so the color can differ from deposits found elsewhere (i.e. deposits in the United States). The stone will also vary in color and consistency between different mines in the same region. Turquoise can be adversely affected by heat (about 480 degrees F), detergents, oils, etc.

Unakite is a rather hard stone that takes on a nice glossy polish. The main components of this rock are quartz, feldspar (source of the pink & orange tones) and greenish epidote. This stone was named for the place it was originally discovered, in South Carolina.