Gemstone Info

Gemstone Info

Gemstone Info is divided into three sections: Gemstone information on individual stones; a description of the treatments of stones; and a reference guide to each gemstone's zodiac, planetary, and color(s).

Gemstones

This section provides some general information on gemstones. We purposefully condensed this information to just fun facts, interesting information and a few personal notes that would be of interest to most gemstone lovers, and intentionally omitted the chemical and physical properties that we feel usually only interests gemologists. There are many sites on the internet for obtaining the scientific information about the stones if you are interested in these characteristics. The love and desire for gemstones is generally emotional, like your attraction to art, not scientific. Likewise, the true value of a gemstone lies in your attraction to it. All colored gemstones are more rare than diamonds (even if you only count the gem quality diamonds). They are a commodity whose monetary value fluctuates with supply and demand. Our information here is basically what we would communicate to you in person. We truly love the stones, each and every one, and hope you will too!

Agate
Agate is an opaque or semi-transparent stone usually seen cut in cabochon form. It comes in many colors and patterns. Because of how the stones are formed, they usually exhibit banding like tree rings or waves, and usually exhibit two or more colors. Some stones have the appearance of of eye. Fire agate exhibits a lot of light play and color flash. It is from Mexico, and is hard to find on the market. Agates have been set in jewelry since ancient times, as it is generally plentiful. There are many varieties of this stone including sardonyx, blue lace agate, and moss agate. Because of the color and banding, it can be carved into beautiful cameos and designs.
Gem Family: Chalcedony Quartz
Source: Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa
Hardness: 6.5 to 7
Treatment(s): Usually untreated, sometimes dyed or bleached
Care and cleaning: Untreated - normal; Dyed - avoid ultrasonic, heat, harsh cleaners
Zodiac sign: Aries
Planet: Mars
Legend and lore: In ancient times it was believed agate would make you invisible. The 12 gems of Israel associate agate with the apostle James. In medieval times people attached agate to the horns of oxen to insure a good harvest. It is believed to cure insomnia, ensure pleasant dreams, promote strength and healing.
Alexandrite
Alexandrite is a phenomenal stone first found in Russia. It was quickly mined out. It has since been found in other locations in a lesser quality. There are some good simulants available, but the real thing is rare. It is very prized for it's color change effect - "emerald by day, ruby by night" - it exhibits green color in natural light, reddish purple in incandescent light. Alexandrite is one of the most expensive gemstones due to it's rarity and desirability.
Gem Family: Chrysoberyl
Source: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania
Hardness: 8.5
Treatment(s): Usually untreated, sometimes oiled
Care and cleaning: Untreated -normal care; oiled - avoid ultrasonic, heat, harsh cleaners
Zodiac sign: Gemini
Planet: Moon
Legend and lore: Legend is alexandrite was discovered in 1830 on the birthday of the future Tsar Alexander II. Coupled with the fact it exhibits both green and red, the national colors of Russia, it was considered by Russians to be good luck to own the stone. It was believed because it exhibits two colors, to only wear one stone instead of two would invite loneliness. It was believed to inspire creativity and increase intuition.
Amber
Amber is an organic stone formed by and/or from living organisms, it is fossilized tree sap and plant resin formed millions of years ago. Each piece is unique, and most special when it contains the remains of insects or plants. It has even been found with animal remains. Each piece is truly a window to the past. Rubbing amber creates static electricity. Amber has the feel of plastic, and is easy to simulate. Therefore you should only buy amber from a source you trust. Most people are familiar with the golden form found in the Baltic Sea area. See COPAL for the description of a variety of green amber. Blue amber is extremely rare and has been found in the Dominican Republic. It is not truly blue, but is golden with a blue surface "shimmer" when turned in the light.
Gem Family: Organic
Source: Germany, Russia, Poland, Dominican Republic, Burma
Hardness: 2 to 2.5
Treatment(s): Often untreated, sometimes heated or dyed
Care and cleaning: Soft stone - be mindful of scratching, avoid abrasives, ultrasonic, solvents, heat, alcohol and perfumes. Clean with soft damp cloth only.
Zodiac sign: Gemini, Virgo
Planet: Mercury
Legend and lore: Ancients used amber medicinally. It was believed to offer a magical light to the deceased as they passed thru the underworld. Magicians and sorcerers believed it gave them special powers. It is associated with love, strength, healing, protection and calming the nerves.
Amblygonite
A lesser known but really beautiful stone, not often found in the market! Amblygonite is found in yellow, green and blue green, but usually what is available is a mint green or yellowish green color. It is usually light in color. It is hard to find gem quality that can be cut into a good stone, so if you have one, treasure it as the unusual find it is. They are not deep in color, but they are vivid, and good quality stones are very eye catching.
Gem Family: Amblygonite
Source: Germany, Sweden, USA, Canada, Australia and Africa
Hardness: 5.5 to 6
Treatment(s): Untreated or irradiated
Care and cleaning: Avoid high temperatures and ultrasonic
Zodiac sign: Taurus, Libra
Planet: Venus
Legend and lore: It is believed amblygonite calms the emotions, resolves conflict, and inspires new ideas. It is a rare stone not owned or worn by many, so try wearing it to develop your own relationship with it and discover the impact it has on you personally!
Amethyst
We call this the Universal stone, because amethyst is used to cleanse the energy of all other gemstones. This is usually done by setting your stones on an amethyst cluster. In addition, it has good energy for everyone, it does not discriminate. Amethyst is readily available and for a long time was one of very few purple stones, a royal color. Most amethyst is heated to improve the color. Really deep, beautiful, untreated stones have been found in recent years in Uruguay and Namibia. Just because it is readily available does not detract from its beauty and desirability, especially since large stones are very affordable. Everyone should have one good amethyst.
Gem Family: Quartz
Source: Uruguay, Namibia, Brazil, Australia, Kenya, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Zambia, many other places
Hardness: 7
Treatment(s): Usually heated or irradiated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Planet: Jupiter
Legend and lore: Ancients believed it would prevent drunkeness. The name amethyst is actually a Greek distortion of Hebrew for "not drunk". It has always been associated with royalty because of its purple color. It has been associated with several religions as well because it was believed to promote celibacy as well as prevent drunkeness. It is also believed to dispel evil thoughts (along the same line of thought as its ability to cleanse other stones of negativity), to protect from harm, to promote sucessful business activities, and to aid hunters.
Ametrine
Two gems in one, a single crystal that is part citrine, part amethyst. Amethysts can turn into citrines, and vice versa, with heat treatment. Consequently a lot of ametrine is artifically created with heat from amethyst or citrine crystals. While they are true gemstones, they are not true ametrine. True, untreated ametrine, to our knowledge, is only found in Bolivia. The only crystal with two gemstones in one!
Gem Family: Quartz
Source: Bolivia
Hardness: 7
Treatment(s): True ametrine is untreated. Amethyst and citrine crystals can be heated to give the appearance of ametrine.
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: See Amethyst and Citrine
Planet: See Amethyst and Citrine
Legend and lore: In addition to the properties of amethyst and citrine, ametrine is believed to aid in meditation, relieve tension, and help eliminate prejudice.
Ammolite
Ammolite is the mineralized fossil of an extinct marine animal known as an ammonite. It is found in shale deposits in Southern Alberta, Canada. It is found in very thin, fragile sheets and layers, and therefore is always assembled into a triplet to stabilize it. Ammolite exhibits enormous, vivid, deep play of color in red, blue, green and yellow. It is like mother of pearl turned up a few notches! Because it is a one source stone, and extremely fragile, it is a bit pricey. If you get a piece, treasure it!
Gem Family: Organic
Source: Canada
Hardness: 2.8
Treatment(s): Untreated, assembled with glass or quartz
Care and cleaning: Gentle handling, be mindful of scratching. Avoid abrasives, ultrasonic, solvents, heat
Zodiac sign: Taurus, Leo, Virgo
Planet: Jupiter
Legend and lore: In England, it was believed ammolite was the remains of headless snakes, therefore it was called Snakestone. In Germany, it was called Dragon stones, which it does look like dragon skin, and was believed to protect against evil spells. Feng Shui associates ammolite with wealth, prosperity and good fortune. Believed to turn negative energy into harmonious energy.
Andalusite
Andalusite is a phenomenal stone which exhibits some or all of the colors of gold, brown, yellow, green and red when turned in the light. Years ago, I was stooped down looking at jewelry at the bottom of a case, and kept seeing a flash of red from below in the glass shelf above me. When I stood up and looked down on the shelf I did not see a red stone, only a green stone set in a pendant. I turned it, saw red and fell in love. I had seen my first andalusite. I wore it everyday for years, it was my first gemstone "friend" as I felt it had waved to me and said "look at me!". This is really an extraordinary stone. It is difficult to find them in sizes of one carat or larger.
Gem Family: Andalusite
Source: Brazil, Mozambique, Spain, Sri Lanka, small quantities in the US
Hardness: 7.5
Treatment(s): Usually untreated, sometimes heated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Gemini
Planet: Mercury
Legend and lore: Considered to enhance problem solving abilities and mental clarity. Some believe it to be conducive to receiving messages from the other side.
Andesine-Labradorite
Andesine-Labradorite was released into the market a few years ago. It is a beautiful stone in red and green, both of which show flashes of yellow and green or red when turned in the light. Red is much more commonly found than green, although the red is highly desirable. The stones were originally marketed as untreated. Lab testing did not detect treatment, and showed them to be a form of feldspar that tested the same as both andesine and labradorite. Unable to determine what to call it, they decided to be safe and call it Andesine-Labradorite. A few years later, it was discovered they are in fact diffused, and much controversy was created by the fact they had been sold as untreated. The treatment does not detract from the quality or desirability of the stone, or even the value. The controversy followed the stone for some time, but it is fading away. Large green stones are most desirable. Because they flash two or more colors when turned, they attract a lot of attention when worn in jewelry.
Gem Family: Feldspar
Source: China, Mongolia
Hardness: 6 to 6.5
Treatment(s): Most often diffused
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: No known association
Planet: No known association
Legend and lore: As a fairly recent stone, no legend and lore is known for this stone. Andesine-Labradorite is in the same gem family as moonstone, sunstone, labradorite, andesine and orthoclase.
Apatite
Wow, what a beautiful, exotic stone! It is found in yellow, green and several shades of warm blue. The blue is just as beautiful or more than paraiba tourmaline, it truly looks like a warm sea. Apatite is actually a common mineral found in teeth and bones. But rarely it is found in gemstone form. Not enough can be said about the exquisite colors of apatite. We often see a slight flash of blue in the yellow stones when they are turned in the light. These stones have a lot of life!
Gem Family: Apatite
Source: Brazil, Burma, Madagascar, Mexico, Mozambique, Sri Lanka
Hardness: 5
Treatment(s): Green - untreated; blue and yellow - heated or irradiated
Care and cleaning: Avoid ultrasonic
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Planet: Jupiter
Legend and lore: The name sounds like "hungry" but actually means "to deceive". This is because it was often mistaken for tourmaline, peridot and beryl. It is believed to enhance learning abilities and creativity, and to help achieve deeper states of meditation. Also believed to improve your coordination, strengthen muscles, suppress hunger, and ease hypertension.
Aquamarine
For thousands of years, mankind has looked at this stone and thought of the sea. Pale, blue and clear, it is hard to look at aquamarine and think of anything but water. Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, along with emeralds, morganites, heliodor and goshenite. Much aquamarine is pale in color, but deeper color can be found and is to be prized. This stone has been a favorite for time out of mind!
Gem Family: Beryl
Source: Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania and Zambia
Hardness: 7.5 to 8
Treatment(s): Heat
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Cancer, Scorpio
Planet: Moon, Saturn
Legend and lore: Long believed to protect fishermen and sailors, and to prevent drowning. It is also believed to provide great vision. Sailors long ago threw them overboard during storms to protect them from Poseidon's anger. Because of its association with water, it is associated with purifying the mind and washing the mind with fresh, clean thoughts.
Aragonite
The cool thing about aragonite is it contains nacre. Nacre is produced by mollusks to create the mother of pearl lining of the shell. Aragonite is one of the few known non-organic sources of nacre on earth, although some believe it is fossilized nacre. That is why we consider this stone truly an exotic with exceptional qualities. It is usually seen cut en cabochon, and sometimes carved. It comes in yellows, oranges, browns (particularly a sort of caramel color), and sometimes in an apple green or light sea blue color. The browns and oranges are most common as they usually contain inclusions of sand. These stones really look pure, pristine and translucent to us, and are beautiful to wear. The blues and greens are particularyly soothing. Aragonite is a member of the calcite family with a different crystalline structure, but will convert to calcite when heated to 400 degrees.
Gem Family: Calcite
Source: Spain, Bohemia, northern part of England
Hardness: 3.5
Treatment(s): Untreated, dyed or waxed
Care and cleaning: Avoid ultrasonic, solvents, heat, abrasives, acidic liquids such as vinegar
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Planet: Saturn
Legend and lore: Considered a grounding stone, with the ability to dispel illusions and bring truth to the forefront. Also believed to combat anger, and to promote patience, acceptance and reliability.
Beryl
Beryl normally refers to a gem family which includes emerald, aquamarine, morganite, heliodor, bixbite and goshenite. However, other colors, while much less commonly found, are referred to as beryl. Usually this means Golden Beryl, which is a deeper golden color than heliodor, Precious Beryl, and sometimes blue or green specimens whose color chemical composition does not identify them as emeralds or aquamarines. Beryls are usually heavily included, and are usually heat treated to enhance color and clarity. The exception is emeralds, for which the normal treatment is oiling. Beryls have been used by humans for thousands of years in jewelry. Good hardness makes this stone a great choice to set in jewelry.
Gem Family: Beryl
Source: Afghanistan, Brazil, Columbia, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine
Hardness: 7.5 to 8
Treatment(s): Green - untreated; yellow - irradiated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Planet: Venus
Legend and lore: Believed to strengthen the immune system, liver, spleen and pancrease. Worn as a talisman to boost your drive and determination to succeed, and protect from psychological manipulation by others.
Calcite
Calcite is a very soft stone, not usually found in gemmy quality. More commonly cut en cabochon, it is rarely found in form to be faceted. If you own a faceted piece, treasure it, and wear it carefully.
Gem Family: Calcite
Source: New Jersey, Mexico, Iceland, worldwide in lesser quantities
Hardness: 3
Treatment(s): Untreated
Care and cleaning: Gentle care - avoid ultrasonic, vinegar, harsh cleaners
Zodiac sign: Gemini
Planet: Moon
Legend and lore: Generally calcite is believed to amplify positive energies and reduce negative energies, all at the same time.
Carnelian
This stone was widely used by the ancients. It is usually a deep red-orange to orange. It is opaque, and is most commonly cut en cabochon, and often carved. Most people have probably seen carnelian in scarab jewelry. Mankind has such a long and personal history with this stone, it is really hard to cover it all. You can't go wrong with this stone, especially if you wear it as a talisman.
Gem Family: Chalcedony Quartz
Source: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Uruguay
Hardness: 6.5 to 7
Treatment(s): Heated or dyed
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Taurus
Planet: Mars
Legend and lore: Most widely worn for protection: against evil, for travels after death, etc Also believed to purify the blood and promote good health, particularly with the digestive system. You could write a book on all the lore and legend for this stone, it has been so widely used for such a long time.
Chalcedony
Chalcedony is a glorious translucent stone that captivates us with it's "glow". It often appears to have it's own inner light. Chalcedony is a sub-group of quartz, distinctive in that is is usually aggregate in formation, rather than crystalline like other quartz family members amethyst, citrine and prasiolite. For us, their huge attraction is they seem to carry both life and serenity from within. They are often dyed, sometimes faceted, always wonderful.
Gem Family: Chalcedony Quartz
Source: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, U.S.
Hardness: 6.5 to 7
Treatment(s): Untreated, irradiatewd, heated or dyed
Care and cleaning: With few exceptions due to treatment, normal care
Zodiac sign: Taurus
Planet: Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn
Legend and lore: Has been used for thousands of years for healing, but it's actual effect in unknown. A safe use is to use it touching the skin of the affected area of the body.
Chrome Diopside
Ok, in layman's terms, this stone pops! Chrome Diopside is a diopside that deserves it's own section. It is a one source stone found in Siberia, in an area only warm enough to mine for 3-4 months a year. Chrome diopside is a vivid jungle green. A clear chrome diopside is so beautiful, it almost looks fake, it is hard to believe something like this comes out of the ground. It is untreated, what you see is it's natural splendor. Beause of it's beauty combined with it being a one source stone, many believe the price of chrome diopside will eventually follow the way of tanzanite and become one of the more expensive gemstones on the market. It is truly extraordinary.
Gem Family: Diopside
Source: Russia
Hardness: 5 to 6
Treatment(s): Untreated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Planet: Moon
Legend and lore: Diopside has been associated with peace and tranquility, and is put on the forehead before rest to assure sweet dreams. Chrome diopside is believed to protect the wearer from bad memories, and is associated with healing chronic diseases.
Chrysoberyl
Chrysoberyl has been used since ancient times. Currently, the best known forms are alexandrite and cats-eye. However, the chrysoberyl we usually list under this name is most commonly a yellow green color, and is very clear and brilliant. A really beautiful, exotic gemstone you will not find in a department store for sure. It is an action stone, responding to light in different ways when moved.
Gem Family: Chrysoberyl
Source: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Hardness: 8.5
Treatment(s): Untreated, heated or irradiated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Leo
Planet: Sun
Legend and lore: Builds kindness, generosity, forgiveness and benevolence. Has a good energy for new beginnings.
Chrysoprase
An apple green form of chalcedony, chrysoprase is one of the most desired forms. It is semi-opaque and in it's best color looks very much like Imperial jade. Chrysoprase is often dyed, an untreated stone is rare and a true treasure. Good quality chrysoprase has an opalescent quality to it. Good quality is the rarest of the chalcedony family.
Gem Family: Chalcedony Quartz
Source: Australia, Brazil, Russia, U.S.
Hardness: 6.5 to 7
Treatment(s): Usually untreated, may be heated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Aquarius, Taurus
Planet: Venus, Uranus
Legend and lore: A gentle, soothing, friendly stone, it is good for preventing depression. Oh, we shouldn't forget, it is good for fertility too!
Citrine
Citrine has been used since antiquity in jewelry, both en cabochon and carved. It is one of the most plentiful and widely found gemstones, along with amethyst and diamond. It can range in color from deep orange to pale yellow. It is usually heat treated, but beautiful, deep color untreated stones have been produced recently by Uruguay and Namibia. Large, clear, vibrant stones are easily available and affordable, making them a great way to own and wear a large, spectacular jewel.
Gem Family: Quartz
Source: Uruguay, Namibia, Brazil, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, worldwide
Hardness: 7
Treatment(s): Untreated, heat or irradiation
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Gemini, Virgo
Planet: Mercury
Legend and lore: Citrine is believed to promote creative and eliminate self-destructive tendencies.
Copal
Copal is often called baby amber, as it is fossilized resin, just like amber, but at a more intermediate stage than amber. It is often clear, and tends not to have as many inclusions as amber. Most of the inclusions in copal are plant life, not animal life. Whereas amber tends to be yellow or golden in color, copal is usually a yellow green color. We have run into some large faceted stones which are very beautiful and clear in the last few years. A very unusual gemstone to own. Like amber, because copal is fosillized resin, it has the feel to the touch of plastic and is very easy to fake, so be sure to buy from a trusted source.
Gem Family: Organic
Source: Central and South America
Hardness: 2 to 2.5
Treatment(s): Often untreated, sometimes heated or dyed
Care and cleaning: Soft stone, be mindful of scratching. Avoid abrasives, ultrasonic, heat, solvents, alcohol and perfumes. Clean with soft damp cloth only.
Zodiac sign: See amber
Planet: See amber
Legend and lore: See amber. The indigenious people of Central and South America commonly used copal as incense.
Coral
Coral has been used since antiquity in jewelry, both as drilled freeform pieces strung into jewelry, and as polished cabochons and beads. Coral is found worldwide, but there really are few species that are used for Jewelry.
Gem Family: Organic
Source: Coastal Mediterannean, Asia and U.S.
Hardness: 3 to 4
Treatment(s): Usually impregnated with colorless wax or oil
Care and cleaning: Gentle care - avoid ultrasonic, steam, extreme heat.
Zodiac sign: Pisces, Aries
Planet: Neptune, Mars
Legend and lore: Coral is believed to calm the seas, protect from lightning and hurricanes, and to stop bleeding. Coral artifacts have been found that date back to 10,000 B.C. It was also believed if the wearer became seriously ill, the coral would lose it's color.
Danburite
First discovered in Danbury, CT, most danburite today comes from Mexico. It is a clear stone with good hardness, making it great for faceting. It is usually colorless, although sometimes pale yellow or pink. It is a great alternate white stone.
Gem Family: Danburite
Source: Mexico, Madagascar, Burma
Hardness: 7 to 7.5
Treatment(s): Untreated
Care and cleaning: Normal care
Zodiac sign: Leo
Planet: Sun
Legend and lore: Danburite is believed to bring truth, honesty, and to strengthen your mind, nervous system, life force and awareness. It is believed danburite can be programmed for specific targeted use in the same way quartz crystals can.
Diamond
Diamonds have been in use since antiquity, but other gemstones have been considered more desireable as diamonds are not as rare as many other stones. This is true even if you only count the stones of good enough quality to set in jewelry. In spite of the fact they are not the most rare, they have become one of the most prized and desired stones in the world today. Their price, because it is cartel imposed, is not reflective of their rarity. Many people consider them to be the most valuable stones to own, and they are the most frequently set stones seen in jewelry. Diamonds are the hardest gemstone and are extremely durable.
Gem Family: Native element carbon
Source: Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Russia
Hardness: 10
Treatment(s): All various treatments are used on diamonds, some more than others
Care and cleaning: Normal care except for fissure filled stones
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Planet: Jupiter
Legend and lore: Many tales exist of the use of diamonds in jewelry, crowns and breastplates for the last couple of thousand of years. Diamonds are believed to not carry any specific energy in themselves, but are believed to amplify the energy of any other gemstones they are set with.
Diaspore / Zultanite
Originally known as Turkish diaspore, as that is the only location in which this stone is found. This stone is extremely rare, and desired, as it is one of the few color change stones. It can change in different light from a light green to a pale raspberry, or a light peach to a raspberry color. The stones vary in the strength of the color change and the color change combination. The stones are very expensive, and are not consistently available on the market. A truly unusual stone to own, that you will likely not know anyone else who owns it.
Gem Family: Diaspore
Source: Turkey (Anatolia)
Hardness: 6.5 to 7
Treatment(s): Untreated
Care and cleaning: Avoid ultrasonic
Zodiac sign: Unknown
Planet: Unknown
Legend and lore: Believed to assist in the development of psychic ability, and emotions based on intellect and touch.