Gemstones are one of the most popular parts and additions to jewellery. If you’re a gemstone fan, collecting gemstone jewellery is a must. With over 300 gemstones to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down which gem you want. Of course, you can choose your favourite colour or your birthstone, but gemstones have lots of meanings and significance which you can also explore. In our guide to types of gemstones, we’ve put together a selection of different gemstones, their origins, and meanings so you can find the perfect gem for you.
What are gemstones and where are they found?
Gemstones or semi-precious stones are mineral crystals or rocks. Gemstones are most used in jewellery and are cut, shaped, and polished to feature within jewellery pieces, like pendants and centre pieces of engagement rings.
Gemstones are classified into species, groups, and varieties. Popular gemstone varieties include beryl, chalcedony, quartz, and topaz which we’ll go into a bit later. The reason gemstones are classified as the same group or variety is because they’re made up of the same properties or chemicals.
Gemstones can be found almost anywhere in the world but there are some popular countries where they’re most discovered. Some of the best destinations where gemstones are mined are Russia, Sri Lanka, Tasmania, and Brazil. Every continent has a popular region for gemstones and depending on what gem is being sourced, different places specialise is different gemstones.
Most gemstones are found in the Earth’s crust but there are some exceptions, like pearls. Pearls are the only gemstone that comes from a living creature: the mollusc. Molluscs create pearls naturally by turning pieces of bacteria that gets inside its shell into pearls. These are natural pearls, but you can also get cultured and imitation pearls which are manmade.
Now that you know what gemstones are and where they’re from, let’s go into types of gemstones and their significance.
The big four gemstones
The most popular gemstones that everyone knows are referred to as the main or big four. They are Diamond, Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire. These gemstones are the most valuable and sought-after gemstones in the world, and are most used in expensive and meaningful jewellery, like engagement or wedding rings.
Diamond is one of the hardest gemstones which makes it difficult to scratch or tarnish and is perfect for using in jewellery. Diamonds are graded using the 4C’s system: cut, clarity, colour, and carat. Diamonds are clear, transparent and reflect the light easily at all angles. They demand attention, which is why they’re used so often in engagement rings. Diamonds are also the traditional birthstone for April.
Emeralds are known for their intense dark green shade and is a stone most used by royalty. Emeralds often have intricate inclusions in them which makes cutting them quite challenging. Therefore, Emeralds have their own signature cut called the Emerald Cut which gives them a square or rectangular shape. Emeralds look their most powerful in Yellow Gold and they’re the traditional birthstone for May.
Ruby is a member of the corundum variety of gemstones and is best know for its warm red colour. The traditional birthstone for July, it’s red-pink hues have become the signature colour of love and romance which makes the perfect Valentine’s Day jewellery gift.
Finally, Sapphires are well-know for their rich dark blue colour, but you can also get yellow and green Sapphires too. Sapphires and Sapphire engagement rings became extremely popular and famous due to Princess Diana’s engagement ring. The Sapphire is also the traditional birthstone for September.
The magic of Quartz
Moving on to gemstone varieties with Quartz. Quartz is a type of crystalline mineral that makes up a lot of gemstones. Quartz is an extremely powerful gemstone, and its many varieties have their own properties and meanings. Popular Quartz types are Amethyst, Citrine, and Smokey Quartz.
Amethyst is one of the most popular and well-known types of Quartz and comes in a variety of colours, with the most popular being Gereen Amethyst and Purple Amethyst. Purple Amethyst is the birthstone for February and Valentine’s Day. Amethyst is a romantic stone that has many properties. It’s thought to prevent its wearer from getting drunk, improve and stimulate the mind and spirit, and protect from nightmares and evil.
Citrine is a pale yellow and amber coloured Quartz which gets its colour from traces of iron in its chemical makeup. It’s an energetic stone that focuses on prosperity and joy. It’s also referred to as the stone of the summer due to its likeness to the sun.
Clear, Rose and Smokey Suartz
Clear, Rose and Smokey Quartz are the most powerful and healing types of Quartz. Clear or Crystal Quartz has a triagonal structure and is best for healing and spiritual growth. Rose Quartz is a pink blush colour and has the same spiritual properties as clear but is also said to stimulate love and romance. Smokey Quartz has a deep brown colour and helps ground its wearer to the earth, helping them connect better with nature.
The colours of Chalcedony
Chalcedony is another type of crystal that makes up a lot of gemstones. Available in a wide range of colours and varieties, many gemstones are forms of Chalcedony like Agate, Carnelian and Chrysoprase which are the most popular. Chalcedony is also its own gemstone and comes in many colours, including blue, green, and yellow.
Agate is a unique variety of Chalcedony as it has many patterns running through the base colour. Agate typically has a brown background and multiple colours curved and stripe through it like black, white, grey, pink, orange and more. It’s a great stone that is said to enhance the brain and improve concentration and perception.
Carnelian is a brown-red variety of Chalcedony that can appear clear to translucent. It can be incredibly pale or extremely dark depending on where it’s been sourced. Carnelian is a stabilising stone that is said to restore creativity, motivation and gives its wearer courage.
Finally, Chrysoprase is a blue-green variety of Chalcedony which is reminiscent of the sea and like agate, often has stripes of white and brown running through it. Darker varieties of Chrysoprase are often referred to as ‘prase’. Chrysoprase is an extremely emotional stone and is said to help its wearer recover from heartbreak and accept change within their lives.
For more gemstone varieties and their meanings, check out Auree Jewellery’s gemstone collections.