Many of our jewelry pieces 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 and coral) 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.
Amazonite: Amazonite is a pretty green colored variety of feldspar and is named after the Amazon River of South America. This gemstone is typically light, bright green to blue-green in color with white lines or alternating streaks mixed in. Amazonite displays a schiller of light, similar to iridescence, caused by inclusions.
Amber: A gemstone with time trapped inside! Amber is fossilized tree resin from millions of years ago. Baltic amber, or succinite, hails from the Baltic region of Europe and found on the seabed of the Baltic Sea. Amber can range in color, but the most popular can range from yellow to orange to brown, almost like honey. Baltic amber is known for its fine golden colors. Amber exudes sophistication and is typically set in nature-themed jewelry pieces.
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 and affordable price compared to other precious gemstones, make amethyst consistently one of the most popular gems.
Beryl: Beryl is one of the most attractive and popular gemstones. It can range from colorless to black, but the most popular and well-known choices for jewelry are Morganite (which is the purple-pink variety) and Aquamarine (which is the sky blue to blue-green variety). Pure Beryl is colorless; However, a wide range of impurities cause a diverse amount of colors and many varieties. Clear Beryl can also be transformed into other colors with dye.
Onyx: Onyx, a member of the chalcedony family, is a gemstone made up of tiny microscopic crystals. It is a very popular gemstone, particularly black onyx, in both women’s and men’s jewelry because its’ dark 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.
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. The most common colors associated with coral jewelry are orange, 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.
Corundum: Corundum is most known for its’ variety of gems like ruby and sapphire. Some once considered corundum a waste product of mining until one day their potential in jewelry was realized. Today corundum is dyed to enhance and even the color out. The most common colors that corundum is dyed is blue, green, and red.
Diamond: Diamonds are the hardest of all the minerals and can greatly vary from stone to stone in terms of color and quality. Diamonds are measured in carats, with one carat being equal to 200 milligrams. Diamonds can also vary in levels. I1 clarity diamonds are going to have inclusions that are immediately visible, without magnification, to a trained grader. I2 clarity diamonds are similar to I1 clarity diamonds but have more even noticeable inclusions. Another popular type of diamond that is used in jewelry, at a fraction of the cost, is Polki diamonds. Originating from India, Polki is described as an uncut and unpolished diamond that has one flat side and the other cut to a taper or point and remains natural, never to be enhanced or lab altered.
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, and goes particularly well with sterling silver.
Iolite: Iolite has been gaining popularity due to its being one of the few available and affordable blue stones in the jewelry world. Iolite can vary from a deep blue to light violet color. Iolite is primarily mined in India. This gemstone gets its name from the Greek “violet”, which alludes to the purple tint that the stone can have.
Jade: Jade is most associated with the color green but can be dyed to become several other colors. Jade is closely linked to Asian culture, history, and tradition, and is sometimes referred to as the “stone of heaven.”
Jasper: Jasper is a semi-translucent to opaque gemstone, of the chalcedony family, that comes in a variety of colors. Oftentimes, jasper will feature unique and interesting patterns within the colored stone. Picture jasper is a type of jasper known for the colors (often beiges and browns) and swirls in the stone’s pattern. These unique patterns occur in nature and make each piece of jasper a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Labradorite: Labradorite is an iridescent variety of feldspar, which is the most abundant mineral at the Earth’s crust. It is one of the rare gemstones that display the “play-of-color” phenomenon. Labradorite can show an iridescent play of blue, green, orange, yellow, or red colors. These colors are due to light interference by thin parallel layers within the labradorite. The Inuit people of Labrador, Canada described the gemstone’s labradorescence the best by saying the Northern Lights were trapped within labradorite.
Lapis: Lapis is an opaque gemstone often featuring a deep midnight blue to violet-blue color. It can contain gold-colored pyrite flecks sprinkled through the gem, making each piece of lapis beautiful and unique. Lapis is a versatile gemstone that is used both in classic and contemporary jewelry styles.
Larimar: Originating in the Dominican Republic, Larimar is a newer stone, only being discovered in 1979. Larimar color can vary, but one of the most prized varieties of this color is sky blue with cloud-like patterns. Larimar is one of a kind stone and hard to confuse with other gemstones.
Moonstone: Moonstone is a unique stone that has a mysterious glow effect and can be found around the world. The most popular variety of moonstone is rainbow moonstone, which can have a milky appearance with a blue sheen. The more transparent and bluer in sheen a moonstone is, the more valuable it is.
Opal: Opal is a gemstone that comes in a kaleidoscopic array of colors and is the most colorful gemstone. It is typically formed in desert areas over long periods of time from layers of silica deposits in deep underground rock. It is known for its’ fascinating “play of color” that occurs when light interacts with the opal’s silica layers. Much of the opal on the market today are synthetic due to the high cost that natural opal brings. Australia is the largest producer of genuine opal, making up for 95% of the world’s supply. Another place known for producing genuine opal is Ethiopia.
Peridot: Peridot is a bright green gemstone that provides the style and looks of emerald at a more affordable price. According to the GIA, some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection could have been peridot. Peridot is one of the softer gemstones on the market, with a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. Peridot most commonly originates in volcanic areas that are rich in iron and magnesium.
Quartz: Quartz refers to a family of crystalline gemstones of various colors and sizes. Among the most well-known types of quartz are rose quartz (which has a delicate pink color), smoky quartz (which comes in a variety of shades of translucent brown), and of course clear quartz. Rutilated quartz is also a popular type of quartz containing needle-like inclusions. Several other gemstones — like Amethyst and Citrine — are a part of the quartz family as well.
Roman Glass: Roman Glass jewelry is inlaid with fragments of ancient glass that date back 2,000 years that have been uncovered in archaeological excavations in Israel. Each piece of jewelry is unique due to the colorful patina on the surface. Patina is created through chemical interactions between the glass and the mineral-rich soil found throughout Israel. Oxidization creates beautiful shades of blue, green, purple, and even pink. You should avoid putting Roman Glass jewelry in water or around harsh chemicals as it can ruin the patina.
Tiger’s Eye: Tiger’s Eye is a gemstone known for its unique and rich striped brown color, which, as its’ name suggests, can resemble the patterns on a tiger’s coat. It is a member of the quartz group of gemstones. It has a microcrystalline structure, meaning that it is made up of crystals that are smaller than those of quartzes, like rose quartz and smoky quartz, but larger than the crystals of chalcedony group gemstones.
Topaz: Topaz is a clear, bright gemstone that is often used to create bold, eye-catching designs. The most popular variety of topaz in the market today is blue topaz, which has a bright light blue color and is relatively inexpensive. This color is produced with irradiation and heat treatment (in nature, topaz is most often colorless).
Turquoise: Turquoise is found in only a few places on earth, and the world’s largest turquoise producing region is the southwest United States. Turquoise is prized for its’ attractive color — most often an intense medium blue or a greenish-blue — and its’ ancient heritage. Turquoise is used in a great variety of jewelry styles. It is perhaps most closely associated with southwest and Native American jewelry, but it is also used in many sleek, modern styles. Some turquoise contains a matrix of dark brown markings, which provides an interesting contrast to the gemstone’s bright blue color.