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Identifying Gemstones in Jewelry

The field of wholesale jewelry expands as customers seek the classic beauty so prevalent in today's fashion trends.  Many businesses are plunged into unfamiliar territory as fashion jewelry broadens to include gemstone jewelry as well as designs that include semiprecious components.  A wealth of information is available on the internet, including entire courses on lapidary.  

But many retailers don't have the luxury of time to wade through the mountain of information.  This gemstone page is focused on helping retailers recognize the main semiprecious stones used in classic fashion jewelry today
. AWNOL specializes in satisfying your needs in the wholesale fashion jewelry trends markets.

agateAgates are a glassy semiprecious stone, generally characterized by banding that is more circular as opposed to straight.  Hardness is around 7 on the Mohs scale (diamond is 10) so you won’t scratch agate with a metal object.  Agate has a transparent quality, so backlight the gemstone and you will see its unique pattern ... more.  

Amethyst is found in geodes with the deepest purple color faceted for fine jewelry and the remainder provides beading for less expensive semiprecious jewelry.  Color ranges from deep purple to lavender with milky quartz striping.  Hardness is 7 on the Mohs scale, which
means you won’t scratch this gemstone with a metal object.  Backlight the transparent stone to reveal white streaking ... more.

Aventurine’s natural colors are green or reddish
brown.  However it is the medium jade green color
that is popular in jewelry.  It is a hard semiprecious
stone (7 on the Mohs scale) that you won’t scratch with a knife (5.5 on the Mohs scale).  Aventurine ranges from opaque (no light passes through) to semi-transparent.  Most aventurine has enough transparency that you can back light it and see the speckling of inclusions, that usually look like flecks of black or white ... more.

Candy Jadecandy jade
Here is a gorgeous new introduction into semiprecious jewelry that combines white, pink, mint, and aqua.  However, if you’re rock hunting, don’t expect to find this beauty because the colors are actually dyed on white stone.  Many suppliers claim the host is a lower grade
of white jade, however that is questionable ... more.
Carnelian’s colors range from honey to deep reddish brown.  The semiprecious stone has transparency that lets you hold it up to a light to see patterns of banding.  The glassy looking stone has a hardness of 7 that easily scratches a window pane that has a hardness of 5.5 ... more.
cateyeCat's eye
There is a natural cat’s eye in semiprecious stone called chrysoberl as well as quartz cat’s eye with subdued colors.  But the exciting color of cateyes in fashion jewelry is actually man-made with fiber optic glass.  A line on the glass appears to move with rotation like the slit in cat’s eye.  The effect is called chatoyance.  How does it work?.....more.
Coral needs no introduction with its familiar tree like growth that creates coral reefs in many parts of the world.  Jewelry uses thicker stems for beads while smaller fingers are drilled for branch necklaces and bracelets.  Inexpensive jewelry dyes dull grey coral to create the rich red Mediterranean color and soft pink of quality Japanese coral ... more.
crystal quartzCrystal Quartz
Rock crystal, crystal quartz, and quartz crystal all refer to the icy clear semiprecious stone that contributed to jewelry for millenniums.  Glass and lucite imitate crystal quartz in the chunky clear fashion look today.  However, crystal quartz has a hardness of 7 that can scratch glass.  Magnify crystal quartz and you occasionally see small inclusions, while glass shows occasional tiny gas bubbles ... more.
Goldstone is actually a special process of glass that dates back to the Renaissance.  Tiny particles of copper or gold are suspend in colored glass to provide sparkle with every movement.  Original goldstone used bronze color while today deep blue and purple are also made with suspended silver particles ... more.
The steely grey color of hematite is so familiar the semiprecious name is often uses as a noun to pinpoint a shade of grey.  It has a shiny luster when polished and is easily carved with a hardness that ranges from 1 to 6 ... more
Howlite is a white semiprecious stone that is usually
spidered with grey, black, or brown matrix.  Beautiful
fashion jewelry can be created with this stone, but
because it is inexpensive and easily dyed, howlite
finds itself often dyed to imitate turquoise and other
more expensive gemstone ... more.

Jasper is the opaque first cousin to agate and has nearly the same wide range of looks that agate has.  They are often found together and classified agate or jasper by their level of transparency.  Red jasper is most commonly used in jewelry and will be treated later.  Other common colors are shades of brown, grayish blue, yellow, and green.  To make the matter more confusing Gemstone of the World says "all colors, mostly striped or spotted" ... more.
Malachite is unique with its pattern of concentric circles alternating light and dark green.  The bright show of green may appear banded in cut pieces of jewelry.  While malachite can be translucent to opaque, jewelry cuts usually have a thickness that makes it always appear opaque.  Malachite is a relatively soft stone, ranked 3.5 to 4 on Mohs scale ... more
Opalite has a milky translucent color with subtle flashes of fire.  There’s no mines for the opalite used in fashion jewelry because this captivating material is actually glass.  A special process produces the milky white glass that simulates mild opalescence ... more
red jasperRed Jasper
Red jasper is the most popular member of the jasper family for jewelry designs.  Reddish brown color distinguishes this opaque semiprecious stone that has grainy structure ... more
rose quartzRose Quartz
Soft pink color makes rose quartz a gemstone with popularity that is a household name.  The semiprecious stone ranges from rich pink to pale, almost clear.  Costume jewelry loves this stone and often tries to imitate it with man-made materials.  Rose quartz has transparency that shows cloudiness with inclusions and streaks of white when held to a light ... more
Lapidary purists will laugh at soapstone included with gemstone jewelry, but the natural stone used for carving is producing striking fashionable jewelry designs today.  Soapstone is 1 to 3 on the Mohs scale so you can cut it with a fingernail.  While the stone can be found in green, yellow, and brown, it’s the snow white color that is popular for jewelry ... more
Sodalite has a dark blue color frequently mixed with white silicate.  The semiprecious stone has a medium hardness of 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, which is equivalent to turquoise.  Sodalite jewelry is easily confused with lapis lazuli, but lapis has a metallic fleck of pyrite that is not found in sodalite ... more
tiger's eyeTiger's eye
Tiger’s eye is a popular gemstone with wide recognition.  The honey to deep brown color and moving eye make it an easily recognized jewelry component.  Hold this semiprecious stone up to the light and you will see no rays passing through it, unusual for a member of the quartz family ... more
If there’s a gemstone that needs no introduction, it has to be turquoise.  Different mines offer distinct beauty from the uniform blue of Sleeping Beauty, to the intricately spidered Lander Blue, and greenish color of Carico Lake.  But with most sources mined out, how can turquoise be so affordable?  First, gem quality turquoise commands a high price and is often sold by carat.  This is quality turquoise that has a hardness and beauty to be worked in its natural state.  The
Allure of Turquoise
claims this is 15% of the world
market ... more
Unakite’s olive color, popular in the current fashion palette, brings it to the height of popularity in gemstone fashion jewelry.  Olive and rose pink mix in this granular semiprecious stone.  The Unaka Mountains of Unicoi, Tennessee are an excellent source of the stone, making it obvious where the name comes from.  Unakite is a dense stone with mixed elements that puts it in the granite family.  Pistachio green color comes from the inclusion of epidote ... more



A Guide in Color to Precious & Semiprecious Stones by Jarslav Bauer & Vladimir Bouska   , req. 1992

Gem & Lapidary Materials by June Culp Zeitner, 1996                                          

Gemstone of the World   by Walter Shermann

Rocks, Gems, & Minerals by Herbert S Zim & Paul R Shafer

Smithsonian Handbooks: Gemstones by Joseph J Peters, revised 2002

Smithsonian Rock & Gem by Ronald Lewis Boniwitz, 2005                                  

The Allure of Turquoise   by New Mexico Magazine, revised 2005

Turquoise Unearthed by Joe Dan Lowry & Joe P Lowry,     2002

Understanding & Finding Agate   by Karen Brzys, 2004, retrieved 2007