Gemology Stone Guide
Whether you’re shopping for a quartz countertop or a diamond engagement ring, the information detailed in our thorough guide will help properly direct you to the perfect gemstone.
Jewelry is purchased with all sorts of reasons in mind – the most popular motive, of course, is to possess and flaunt its radiant beauty. Over the years gemstones have retained their one-of-a-kind status as luminous and brilliant conductors of light. Breathtaking as their beauty may be, the holistic reasons behind wearing gemstones equal their splendor. Each stone possesses a unique vibration and mineral makeup that, together, transform different healing properties. Many people search out jewelry purely based on the properties of a specific stone, which are excellent in creating balance in one’s life.
This is no modern phenomenon. Throughout history people have surrounded themselves with gems to attain harmony in their lives. Traditionally, valuable gems such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires have been incorporated into fashion, architecture, armor wear, jewelry and other decorative forms in a variety of cultures over time. The historic Chapel of Wenceslas in Prague, for example, was decorated using costly, dear Chrysoprase detail in its construction. And we oughtn’t neglect to mention the decadent gold-trimmed façades and golden domes that often gild Capitols and Cathedrals all over the world.
Those who are familiar with stones find that building with them is one of the highest levels of integrating stones into their life. Quartz is now widely used in the construction of countertops and inlaying of floors in modern-day homes. In fact, the use of crystals in home décor has become a very popular and luxurious trend.
Qualities that attract a person to a particular stone are its color and energy. Take into account the stones towards which you naturally and consistently gravitate, and trust your instincts. You may find these stones that call out to you visually also possess energy that compliments your metaphysical needs.
Read on to learn more and find your ideal stone. We have outlined the gemstones of two families: Quartz and Chalcedony. Included is helpful information with a detailed description of each gem, including its historical and cultural significance, holistic benefits and mining locales.
The Quartz Family
Quartz has several deviations. The color range of this stone covers the entire color spectrum, extending from purple in Amethyst to gold in Citrine to the opaque colors of Chalcedony – all of which fall under the Quartz family tree. Quartz isn’t just beautiful – it is home to numerous healing properties that are often used in meditation, healing readings and treatments. Rutilated Quartz is a variation of quartz that has bands or particles of foreign material inside the stone. Another type, Tourmilated Quartz has tourmaline bands running through the stone. These forms of quartz are thought to be stronger healers than quartz crystal.
Humans have used quartz in spiritual sermons and rituals throughout history. Spiritual customs from wide-spread societies have been known to use the stone for balancing chakras, transforming energy and a host of metaphysical uses. Because they are believed to possess healing properties they have been and still are used in meditative practices. The belief that, in meditation, quartz allows its possessor to transcend physical and spiritual dimensions and time spans Western, Chinese, Medieval European and Celtic cultures. It is said to intensify psychic power. This ability to align one’s psychic self with the cosmos is attributed to its piezoelectric properties – or, its capacity to become electrically charged under pressure. Quartz is also pyroelectric – or, electrically charged through heating the stone.
Did you know quartz is used in computer chips to relay information? It is a popular belief that, similar in its ability to transmit knowledge technologically, quartz can be used as a communication vessel with the spirit world. This powerful gem is thought to strengthen psychic power.
Now, quartz in its many forms:
Quartz Crystal (clear) is a very unique stone in its crystal-clear form.
Holistic Benefits Its qualities aid in energy transmission, so this variety is commonly used in meditation. Quartz is said to dispel negative energy and assists in the balancing of emotions. This form of quartz promotes healing for all the chakras and creates balance between them.
Source Quartz deposits are located in Brazil, which also includes the site of the largest quartz crystal, weighing almost 90,000 lbs was found. It is also found in France (specifically, Dauphine), the U.S.A. (in Arkansas, California and New York), Alta, Canada, England, Australia, Germany, India, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland.
Tourmilated Quartz can either be solid black or crystal clear, with varying degrees of gray in between. Tourmaline bands running through the stone determine the clarity of the gem, which adds an organic quality to a primarily iridescent solid.
Holistic Benefits The quartz is thought to amplify and intensify the energies of the tourmaline running through the rock. It is said to balance male and female properties, neutralizing the extremes. It is an excellent stone for radiation and chemotherapy patients with its ability to remove toxins and elevate inner strength for change. Black tourmaline, specifically, is used to repel negativity and psychic attack.
Source Tourmilated quartz is deposited in India and Sri Lanka.
Rutilated Quartz Rutilated quartz is a variation of quartz that has bands or particles of foreign material inside the stone.
Holistic Benefits Rutilated quartz has the properties to boost the life force through its regeneration of tissue, fortification of the immune system and ability to stimulate brain function. This type of quartz eases depression and facilitates inspiration by increasing clairvoyance and enhancing communication with the higher self.
Source Locations of deposits include Russia and Brazil. Also, New York produces very rare examples which display green bottoms and clear tops.
Smoky Quartz is a variety of quartz with a brownish-gray hue.
Holistic Benefits Like the latter, smoky quartz is also a known healer and assists in dispelling negative energy. In addition, it is also helpful in enhancing dream awareness and channeling abilities. This stone helps to bring balance between the root charka, the navel charka and the solar plexus charka.
Source Smoky quarts can be found in Scotland’s Cairnigorm Mountains, where it is the national gem of Scotland. It is also found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama and Colorado.
Rose Quartz, a pink crystal, is another type of stone found in this family.
Holistic Benefits Deemed the “love stone”, rose quartz is connected to the heart charkas in its ability to increase fertility and enhance self-confidence and creativity. This stone also helps the wearer experience the feelings of forgiveness, compassion and love.
Source Small rose quartz crystals are very rare in nature but can be found in Brazil, Maine and California. It can be found in it’s more common, large rock-form in Brazil, South Dakota, Colorado, Arkansas, California, Switzerland, Madagascar, India, Germany, Scotland, Spain, Malagasy Republic and Canada.
Amethyst is a purple stone with a color range that stretches from soft violet to brilliant royal purple. The deeper the purple: the more valuable the stone.
Holistic Benefits This stone provides healing, divine love, inspiration and intuition. It helps the wearer activate their crown chakra and heart chakra. It is known to purify and rejuvenate on all levels – physical, mental and emotional – and helps to trigger transformation and enhance psychic abilities.
Distinct Historical and Cultural Significance Amethyst has had a variety of uses throughout history. In the Middle Ages the stone was cut for goblets in churches, but its main utilization is to promote healing through meditation.
Source It is mined mainly in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Namibia.
Citrine, the French word for “lemon”, is illustrative of the gemstone for which it was name. Citrine is typically a pale yellowish-gold color and is relatively iridescent and clear; however, the darker variety is the more valued form of citrine in the gem trade.
Holistic Benefits This stone is a known magnet for abundance. It brings optimism, hope and cheer into the life of its wearer and creates an aura of warmth and energy. It is helpful in heightening one’s self-esteem and in aligning its person with their higher self.
Source The vast majority of citrine found comes from the Rio Grande du Sol in Brazil.
The Chalcedony Family
Chalcedony, like quartz, has several different strains. This type of gemstone is formed by the fusion of finely-grained microcrystals. These stones’ colors range from the bright green of chrysoprase to the vivid orange-brown color of carnelian, with many colors in between. The agates and the jaspers fall under the chalcedony family tree. The jaspers can be many different colors often times looking like a landscape.
Chrysoprase has a bright apple-green hue and is one of the most valued stones in the gem trade. In its natural state it appears to have a waxy sheen – exhibiting a likeness to thick, green paste.
Holistic Benefits Chrysoprase is associated with the heart chakra and stimulates lightheartedness, joy and fertility. It is thought to enhance creativity in its ability to bring forth inner talents. It is a calming and balancing stone – it eases depression, brings about an increased sense of calm and security, and promotes deep sleep and sound rest.
Historical and Cultural Significance Historically, chrysoprase’s legend is that of magic: it is rumored to have helped its wearers attain invisibility.
Source Traditionally, Bohemia mined the world’s bulk of chrysoprase, but Australia remains the world’s finest producer, today.
Carnelian is a deep orange, translucent stone.
Holistic Benefits Carnelian is a highly evolved mineral healer: it energizes the blood and strengthens the immune system. This stone assists in the reparation of kidneys and liver, and revitalizes and realigns the chakras. Carnelian is a stone of social interaction, joy and openness.
Historical and Cultural Significance Carnelian has ties to the earliest of humans exhumed – as some of the oldest jeweled artifacts found (in the Middle East) contained Carnelian.
Source Carnelian is found in Brazil, Australia, Madagascar, Russia, India, the U.S., and some parts of Africa.
Aquamarine is the stone of the sea. It’s hues range from light blue to a deep-sea blue – with the darker stones of the highest value in this selection.
Historical and Cultural Significance This stone is said to have come from a mermaid – ensuring the safety of seamen bearing the stone while on voyages at sea.
Holistic Benefits It is a very peaceful stone. It calms the nerves and purifies the mind, so it is excellent for meditation. It is said to bestow a soothing effect on married couples. This stone can help couples to achieve a happy marriage and is the perfect anniversary stone.
Source Aquamarine is mined in Brazil, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and Madagascar.
Emerald has a bright green coloration. The more vibrant and vivid green the stone possesses – like green grass – the more valuable the gem.
Holistic Benefits This stone is thought to assist in improving intelligence and heightening awareness. It is linked to love and the heart, and it is also said that emerald helps to enhance divinity within us.
Historical and Cultural Significance Emerald has been in high demand throughout history and still remains one of the most sought-after stones today. Treasured by scores of cultures for at least 4,000 years, Emerald was a favorite of Cleopatra and numerous Indian Moguls.
Source The most valued producer is the Columbian Emerald, with its stunning clear-green color. Other sources include Brazil, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Afghanistan and Madagascar.
Garnet is commonly presumed to be a dark red gemstone, but it actually encompasses a collection of hues belonging to every color except for blue. Black garnet is a spectacular variety that possesses a sparkle that makes it worth every penny. Red garnet is relatively inexpensive compared to the tsavorite garnet, which is valued at thousands of dollars per carat.
Holistic Benefits Holistically, garnets are said to strengthen the blood and offer strength to the kundalini.
Historical and Cultural Significance Red garnets, thought to represent a pomegranate fruit, are historically known for being tied into battle and celebrations throughout history. It was used decoratively in metal wear and armor to resemble the small seeds. Thought to help aid in protection against evil, garnets were embedded in the actual swords and shields used in battle.
Source East Africa produces the most diverse selection of Garnets in Tanzania and Kenya. Madagascar, Mali and Namibia are also noteworthy sources of Garnet mines.
Iolite has a deep blue color and vibrance comparable to that of tanzanite or sapphire and yields a far more affordable price tag. Its defining property is its pleochroism, or capacity to change color according to the angle at which it is viewed.
Holistic Benefits Iolite promotes physical health on all levels but, specifically, alleviates headaches and heals the liver by eliminating toxicity. It is considered a strong shaman stone because it helps one achieve deep trance states and invoke visions, making it useful for guided meditations and in healing work.
Historical and Cultural Significance Its name comes from the Greek word ios, meaning violet, and its color ranges from deep blue to indigo (or blue-violet). Its historical significance dates back to the times of the Vikings, who would utilize this stone as a compass on overcast days to determine the course of the sun and moon, as it is oftentimes cloudy in Scandinavia. Thought to possess magical qualities as well, Vikings used thin pieces of iolite as the world’s first polarizing filter with which they could determine the exact position of the sun and navigate safely.
Source The Vikings obtained this stone in Norway and Greenland. Today iolite is found in India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and parts of Africa.
Moonstone contains an iridescent blue sheen, named for its moon-like glow.
Holistic Benefits Its powers lie in its ability to align one’s self with their higher self and is said to bring about psychic awareness when held on a full moon.
Historical and Cultural Significance Its uses can be traced back to the Romans in 100 AD, who thought moonstone was made from actual moonlight. Also known as the “Goddess Stone”, this gem is representative of female ideology, perhaps because it is extremely soft and vulnerable to tarnishing.
Source Moonstone is mined in Southern India, Sir Lanka, Burma and Mexico.
Moonstone shares its June birthstone rights with Alexandrite and Pearl.
Opal has several variations that range from a muted rainbow of color to fire opals (with bright orange features), and is inclusive to white and black forms. Pink opal, a version of white opal, has a subtle hint of soft, pastel-pink.
Holistic Benefits Opals are said to strengthen our chakras by aligning them with our true essence.
Historical and Cultural Significance Opals have been treasured stones amongst royalty and sacred to many cultures over the years. The rainbow color symbolizes divine beauty and was worn by queens of the Roman Empire.
Source Opals are found in Australia, Mexico and Oregon in the U.S.
Peridot has a bright, lime-green color.
Holistic Benefits Peridot is thought to reduce stress and purify the mind. It is used to accelerate personal growth and open up new doors of opportunity.
Historical Significance The Romans coined this gem the “stone of the night” due to its glow and appearance to radiate and reflect light even in the dark. Peridot has been used in adornment and utilized for its holistic attributes in several cultures over the years.
Source Volcanic activity and fallen meteorites are credited with the production of peridot. Native Americans mine this stone in Arizona, and though tiny grains of peridot are found on some Hawaiian beaches, these samples are too small to cut. Hawaiian mythology portrays these shards to be tears of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. Hence the false popular opinion that peridot is mined in Hawaii instead of Arizona.
Ruby is a dramatic, vibrant red gemstone. It is an exceptionally hard and durable stone, like its sister stone: the sapphire. It is very rare and incredibly valuable – regarded by some to be the most valuable stone in the world.
Holistic Benefits Ruby is considered to be a love stone that not only has the power to open the heart, but heal it, as well. It is considered an emotional laxative, releasing the emotional congestion blocking the heart.
Historical and Cultural Significance Rubies represent courage, power and leadership. They have been used in battles to protect against injury and were thought by Burmese soldiers to have the power to make them vanish. In India, they were held up to be the highest of all spiritual stones.
Source Rubies are found primarily in Burma. Thailand was a major producer in the past, but today Thailand mainly finishes and cuts outsourced rubies. Rubies can also be found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Madagascar
Sapphire, in its most popular form, is a deep blue color – but sapphires are actually found in all colors except for red. Red sapphires are rubies: sapphire’s sister stone. Sapphires share the same extreme hardness factor that rubies possess. Like rubies, sapphires are a very valuable stone – with the pink variety placed at the highest price due to their scarcity.
Holistic Benefits Sapphire is thought to expand cosmic awareness and dispel confusion.
Historical and Cultural Significance Sapphires have long been associated with royalty and romance. Sapphires represent honesty, purity and loyalty, and are the perfect gift to express love and friendship. The rare, pinkish-orange strain of sapphire was dubbed “padparadscha”: the Sinhalese word for “lotus flower” – a symbol of divine beauty. Prince Charles gave Lady Diana a sapphire engagement ring.
Source Sapphires are found in Sri Lanka, Burma and Madagascar. Stones are also mined in Tanzania, Kenya, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Tanzanite is a blue-violet stone that is often referred to as being purple in color. It is revered for its trichroic effect – that is, tanzanite’s exhibition of other colors when viewed from different vantage points. A single specimen can look purple on one side, blue on another, and present an additional bronze surface – all on the same stone. Tanzanite is more valuable when it has a bluish color, which is more pronounced when the stone exceeds 5 carats.
Holistic Benefits The rare, clear-ish variety is often used in healing meditation. It helps improve one’s hair, skin, audio perception and physical sense of sight as well as expanding mental clairvoyance.
Historical and Cultural Significance Tanzanite is a stone of the 21st century discovered and introduced by Tiffany and Co., who named the stone after its country of origin. Tanzanite was first stumbled upon in 1962 Masai herders in the hills of Tanzania by Mt. Kilimanjaro, so it is still relatively new to the market.
Source Tanzanite is only mined in the hills of Tanzania by Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Topaz is found in many different colors, but imperial topaz – with its pink and orange hues – are the most valuable of this family. Topaz rich in deep orange saturation is the most prized selection, whereas blue topaz is readily available and the least expensive. Blue topaz and other unnatural variations are likely manipulated through a heat-treating process discovered in 1970 as a means of enhancing colorless topaz.
Holistic Benefits Topaz is said to aid in improving one’s sight and providing inner clarity. It is also enhances communication with the higher self and brings out psychic insight.
Historical and Cultural Importance Topaz, deemed the “stone of light” in ancient times, is rumored to have been a great protector and help in the attainment of invincibility.
Source Imperial topaz is mined in Brazil.
Pinkish topaz is found in Pakistan and Russia.
The colorless topaz that is used to make blue topaz is found in China, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
Tourmaline is found in an array of colors. Its unique quality is that few natural gemstones have as many color variations, which makes it a very sought-after. A slice of tourmaline can sometimes resemble a watermelon; these specimens are referred to as bicolor or particolor. The most valued forms of tourmaline include the most infrequent colors found: copper, bright blue and deep green.
Holistic Benefits This stone enhances sensitivity and understanding. In addition to the electromagnetic healing properties it radiates, tourmaline is thought to render artistic expression and induce a creative atmosphere.
Historical Importance Tourmaline is known as “The Ruby Imposter” as it is often mistaken for its more expensive counterpart.
Source Brazil is the main site of tourmaline, but it is also traced to Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Madagascar, California and Maine.
Turquoise comes in shades of blue, green or yellow and exhibits inclusions that create distinct patterns within the stone.
Holistic Benefits Turquoise is said to bring about creative expression, peace of mind and emotional balance.
Historical and Cultural Importance - Throughout history turquoise has been valued and praised by a variety of cultures. It has been used in Egyptian cultures and utilized by the Aztecs, Native Americans, Chinese and Tibetans. Egyptians embedded turquoise in jewelry and décor – in fact, the stone has been found in art that dates back 5,000 years. In Tibet, turquoise is the national gemstone and is believed to bring to those it surrounds with good health, fortune and overall prosperity. Chinese cultures carved sculptures from turquoise, as it is an excellent carving stone. The Incas and Aztecs valued the stone over gold. In Europe, the gift of turquoise is a gift to “forget me-not”.
Source Turquoise is found in the United States and China. In the U.S. it is mined in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.
Diamonds are minerals made of carbon crystals that are formed by extremely high temperatures and intense pressure. These stones are among the hardest materials known of any natural substance. The “Four C’s” of a diamond – that is, a diamond’s color, clarity, cut, and carat – are examined when evaluating its worth. Diamonds come in an array of colors, yet the colorless variety proves to be the most precious and expensive.
diamond that exhibits brilliance, clarity and colorlessness is of the most value. A diamond must demonstrate little or no color in order to have “fine color,” which is gauged by the GIA – Gem Institute of America – D-Z color grading scale. Clarity is measured by the GIA clarity scale and is as follows:
F = Flawless
IF = Internally Flawless
VVS1 & VVS2 = Very, Very Slightly Included
VS1 & VS2 = Very Slightly Included
SL1 & SL2 = Slightly Included
I1 & I2 & I3 = Included
The cut of a diamond is assessed by three major parts of the polished stone. These are (from top to bottom) the crown, the girdle and the pavilion. The final factor in the appraisal of a diamond’s value is its carat weight – the bigger, the better.
Holistic Benefits Diamonds are master healers and are thought to dispel negativity and bring faithfulness to its wearer. They are also said to reflect the power of human will and intensity of God.
Source AND Cultural Impact Diamonds are sourced primarily from Africa. However, Canadian diamonds are becoming a popular alternative to so-called “blood diamonds” due to ever-increasing publicity detailing the diamond-driven conflicts in Africa. Regardless, diamonds have become the most popular stone among buyers. De Beers, the diamond industry owners have promoted diamonds for every occasion from engagements to any type of purchase imaginable. The result of their heavy marketing campaign has put diamonds in high demand.
April claims birthstone rights to the diamond.
*Months correspond to the United States’ birthstone allocation