Colored Stones, Stones

Gems of the World P – S

A colorful, brief background on the major gemstones used in jewelry today. Each gem includes a description, a photo of the cut gem, and then the crystal or source material which is sourced from. In this issue we are featuring Pearl to Sunstone, and the many gems in-between!

(Images are courtesy of GIA.ed unless otherwise noted.)


Pearls are simply and purely organic. Produced in the bodies of marine and freshwater mollusks, pearls are naturally cultured or cultured by people with great care. Smooth, subtly-colored pearls are jewelry staples, especially as luminous strands.

Source: Imperial Pearl


Found in lava, meteorites, and deep in the earth’s mantle, peridot is the extreme gem, a variety of the mineral olivine. The color range for peridot is narrow, from a brown-green color to yellowish green to pure green. Yellowish green is the most common color seen in jewelry.


Rose quartz is a quartz variety that gets its name from its delicate pink color. Microscopic mineral inclusions cause the color and translucence of rose quartz. Well-shaped, transparent pink quartz crystals are equally rare and stunning.


Traces of chromium give this popular gem its rich color. Long valued by humans of many cultures, in ancient Sanskrit, ruby was called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” Ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire.


Depending on their trace element content, sapphire might be blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple or even show a six-rayed star when cut as a cabochon. Sapphire is a corundum mineral species. The name “sapphire” can apply to any corundum that’s not ruby, which is also a corundum.


For centuries, spinel, the great imposter, masqueraded as ruby in Europe’s crown jewels. Think: the Black Prince’s Ruby, the Timur Ruby. Although frequently confused with ruby, spinel stands on its own merits. Available in a striking array of colors, its long history includes many famous large spinels still in existence.


Gem connoisseurs and jewelry designers often seek the subtle beauty of lesser-known—but still intriguing —gemstones like Sunstone. Its name refers to the gem’s appearance, a distinct and lively glitter called aventurescence. Most sunstones have yellow, orange, or brown color, with aventurescence caused by inclusions of hematite, copper, or other minerals.

For more information, or if you have questions or comments, please get in touch.

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