Jewelry Facts & Features
Gemstones (Part 1)
Many of our jewelry items feature one or more gemstones. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), to qualify as a gem, a stone must be beautiful, durable, and rare.
Some gemstones (like pearls, coral, and amber) are classified as organic, meaning that they are produced by living organisms. Others are inorganic, meaning that they are generally composed of and arise from minerals. Stones that are identified as synthetic are created in a laboratory (as opposed to natural gemstones, which are created by natural processes without human help).
Below is a glossary of some of the gemstones featured in MMA International’s Silver Stars Collection. Click on the name of any gemstone to browse our items that feature that material.
Amber: Amber, an ancient organic gemstone, is composed of tree resin that has hardened over time. According to the GIA, the stone must be at least 1 million years old to be classified as amber, and some amber can be up to 120 million years old. Amber can come in a number of different colors, ranging from yellow to golden orange to red. Most of the world’s amber comes from the shores of the Baltic Sea in Eastern Europe.
Amethyst: Amethyst has historically been the most prized gemstone in the quartz family. It is treasured for its purple hue, which can range in tone from light to dark. The finest amethyst will have strong color saturation and a medium to dark reddish purple or purple color. Its attractive color, along with is affordable price compared to other precious gemstones, make amethyst consistently one of the most popular gems.
Black Onyx: Black Onyx, a member of the chalcedony family, is a gemstone made up of tiny microscopic crystals. It is a very popular gemstone in both women’s and men’s jewelry because its black color acts as a great complement to white metals like sterling silver, as well as clear crystals and CZs. Most black onyx on the market today is treated to give it its dark black color. Black onyx is sometimes faceted or fashioned into beads.
Chalcedony: Chalcedony is a type of quartz. It is classified separately because, unlike other forms of quartz, it is composed of very small microscopic crystals. It can come in a wide variety of looks and colors. Several types of semi-precious stones discussed separately — including Black Onyx, and Jasper — are varieties of Chalcedony.
Citrine: Citrine is known for its stylish yellow to brownish color, and is generally considered the top selling gemstone of this color in the United States. It is a member of the quartz family, and has a large crystalline structure.
Coral: Coral is an organic gem that comes from the skeletal remains of sea creatures (which are themselves called Coral). The most common colors associated with coral jewelry are pink and red. Coral requires pristine environmental conditions to grow, meaning that producers must maintain calm waters free of pollution. According to the GIA, coral is believed to have been used in jewelry for about 30,000 years.
Emerald: Emeralds are one of the three main precious gemstones (along with rubies and sapphires) and are known for their fine green to bluish green color. They have been treasured throughout history, and some historians report that the Egyptians mined emerald as early as 3500 BC. Today, emeralds are increasingly being used in faceted rough-cut designs that provide a bold look at an affordable price.
Garnet: Garnet is most commonly a deep red to purplish red gemstone with a cubic crystal structure. Garnet is considered an affordable alternative to more expensive red gemstones like rubies or tourmaline, and goes particularly well with sterling silver.
Jade: Jade is most commonly associated with the color green, but can come in a number of other colors as well. Jade is closely linked to Asian culture, history, and tradition, and is sometimes referred to as the “stone of heaven.”