Colored Stones, Stones

Gems of the World – T to Z

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 Tanzanite to Zircon, and the many gems in-between!

Enjoy the photos of polished gems and the crystals from which they come.  These are some of my favorites.  Which one do you like?


Exotic tanzanite is found in only one place on earth, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Named for Tanzania, the country where it was discovered in 1967, tanzanite is the blue-to-violet or purple variety of the mineral zoisite. Its lush blue, vibrant violet, and rich purple colors make it one of the most popular of colored gemstones.


Imagine honey yellow, fiery orange, cyclamen pink, or icy blue. With these warm or cool tones, topaz is a lustrous and brilliant gem. While colorless topaz is treated blue for the mass-market, the natural fine pink-to-red, purple, and orange gems are one-of-a-kind pieces. Top sources for topaz include Ouro Prêto, Brazil, and Russia’s Ural Mountains.



Tourmalines come in a wide variety of exciting colors. In fact, tourmaline has one of the widest color ranges of any gem species, occurring in various shades from pink, red, purplish red, and orange red, to dark violet blue, blue, greenish blue, and bright green. Parti-colored tourmaline displays more than one color, and watermelon tourmaline is pink in the center and green around the outside. You can imagine, it’s a favorite of mineral collectors.


While it might lack the sparkle and clarity of transparent colored gemstones like ruby and sapphire, its color alone make Turquoise a desirable gem. Ancient peoples from Egypt to Mesoamerica and China treasured this vivid blue gem as much as we do today. Its color can range from dull greens to grass greens to a bright, medium-toned, sky blue.  Think azure sky and robin’s egg blue. It’s most often cut into cabochons, but it might also be cut into beads or flat pieces for inlays, as found in the traditional jewelry of Native American peoples.


Unfairly confused with the synthetic gemstone cubic zirconia, Zircon is a colorful gem enhanced by all-natural optical properties that make it bright and lustrous. Its blue hues are the most familiar, but it also comes in warm autumnal yellows and reddish browns, as well as red and green hues. Zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire.

For more information about any of these gemstone, or if you have questions or comments, please get in touch.

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