Many people are familiar with gemstone jewelry, especially ruby, (blue) sapphire, and emerald – also known as precious gemstones. You might also know the birthstones of certain months, from garnet (January) to amethyst (February), opal (October), and more.
There are so many interesting colored stones in the world, each with unique characteristics and a place in history. At Henne we’ve picked 10 stones – some lesser known than others -- to consider adding to your collection.
While many chain jewelry stores don’t carry chalcedony jewelry, it’s one of the world’s oldest, most abundant, and most popular gems. Sources state that varieties of chalcedony were used as far back as the Bronze Age, and it was used throughout Old Testament Biblical times. According to Jewish tradition, the Jewish High Priest (Aaron) wore a breastplate with several varieties of chalcedony as part of a dozen gems representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Throughout history many cultures have considered it a talisman, capable of driving away ghosts and protecting against drowning.
Chalcedony has many varieties, including carnelian, which is reddish brown. There’s also chrysoprase, a green variety of chalcedony; agate, which offers different types of transparency and patterns as opposed to specific colors; onyx, which has black and white banding, and more. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, from translucent to semitransparent to opaque. You’re sure to find a necklace or bracelet that suits your style and preferred palette.
Citrine is a variety of quartz and is the most popular transparent gemstone that is yellow-to-orange. With its warm beauty and wearability, citrine adds vibrance and color to any outfit.
This gem is a birthstone for November (along with topaz) and is the gem used to celebrate a couples’ 13th anniversary. It comes in a wide range of sizes and colors from lemon colors to deep, earthy brown. It’s often faceted in round and fancy shapes. Occasionally you’ll find an unusual cut in a citrine piece as well. Sometimes the stone stands alone as the focal point in a necklace or ring, but it looks stunning with diamonds and other gems in contrasting colors as well.
The Brazilian jewelry designer Vianna Brasil crafts exotic earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings using citrine along with other types of quartz and diamonds. Henne’s own internal designers work with citrine often as well.
While moonstone is relatively well known as one of the three birthstones for June (the others being pearl and alexandrite), we include it because it’s a very captivating stone. During the stone’s formation, two minerals separate into layers, and light falls between those two layers creating a phenomenon called adularescence. The result? A ‘moon’-like glow, reminiscent of a full moon shining through thin clouds.
Many cultures have gravitated toward moonstone, saying it brings good luck and even possesses fortune-telling qualities.
Moonstone can be set in rings and pendants and is typically colorless, white, or bluish-gray. The stone can be glassy and semitransparent to opaque and is sourced from India, Myanmar (Burma), and Sri Lanka.
Mark Patterson, who designs bridal and fashion jewelry, creates stunning moonstone pieces. And Henne’s own internal designers create beautiful moonstone jewelry as well at all price points.
Unlike some of the other colored stones that have had a place in history since ancient times, morganite wasn’t officially ‘discovered’ until around 1910. At that time it was named in honor of renowned financier and gem enthusiast JP Morgan. An exciting alternative to pink tourmaline and kunzite, Tiffany’s jewelry store leveraged its relationship with JP Morgan and promoted the gem heavily. Today it’s a desired gem for fashion jewelry, as well as a popular alternative to a diamond for engagement rings.
Morganite is generally a peach color when it’s mined, but it is often heated to produce the beautiful pale pink shade that shoppers desire. As a beryl, it’s a relative of emerald and aquamarine.
Peridot, a stone that was formed deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface via volcanic activity, is a bright and exciting gem. The ancient Egyptians mined it and called it the “gem of the sun”. Throughout history it’s been used as a talisman to ward off evil spirits and terrors of the night.
Peridot is usually transparent and comes in a variety of colors, often bright green and yellowish-green to a more muted olive green. It stands out beautifully set along in white, yellow, and rose gold, but it also looks lovely when combined with other gems in contrasting colors. You’ll find the stone in traditional and fancy cuts, along with bead jewelry.
Shoppers who appreciate bright colors will love peridot jewelry. It’s one of the birthstones for August (along with sardonyx and newly added spinel) and is used to celebrate couples’ 15th anniversaries.
Rose quartz makes this list because of the lovely pastel shades it offers, very light to medium dark pink. Often it will have a cloudy translucence and visual texture or even offer a ‘floating light’ effect. Rose quartz is durable and available at a great price point, which makes it a great choice for bead necklaces and bracelets. Sources state that it was used in jewelry as far back as 800-600 BC by the Assyrians.
If you like delicate shades of pink and unique bead jewelry (or this amazing custom-designed Henne piece by Bertus Design), you’ll want to have at least one piece of jewelry that uses rose quartz – possibly to celebrate your fifth wedding anniversary!
If you prefer earthy tones to the delicate shades of rose quartz, try smoky quartz. It’s been used throughout history and was very popular in the late Victorian period following her death, when jewelry design was very somber yet dramatic.
Smoky quartz comes at a great price point, and its colors range from light to dark brown. Its transparency/translucency adds beauty to the brown shades and is a great accent for shoppers who prefer warm yellow and orange clothing.
From estate jewelry to contemporary designs and Henne exclusive designs, see some of our smoky quartz jewelry.
The Gemological Institute of America calls spinel history’s most underappreciated gem. For thousands of years it was confused with ruby and sapphire, and used in royal courts from Rome to China. In fact, the Black Prince’s Ruby, one of the most famous ‘rubies’ of all time – which was given to Edward, Prince of Wales as payment for a battle victory -- is actually a polished red spinel. Today that spinel remains one of the centerpieces of England’s Crown Jewels.
Furthermore, there are a lot of synthetic spinels out there due to limited availability of the natural stone. Today spinels are sourced from Cambodia, Myanmar (known for fine-quality pink and red spinels), Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Spinels come in many colors ranging from violet to blue, red, pink, orange, and more. Top quality spinels have a deep, rich color – which is why red spinels can rival ruby but cost much less. Vivid orange spinels are aptly named flame spinel. By contrast, blue spinels are more subdued and can almost appear grayish. Spinel is also hard and tough, which makes it great for daily wear. It was recently added as a birthstone for August (along with peridot and sardonyx).
Similar to spinel, tourmaline is a great gem that has a wide color range and has been mistaken for other gemstones for hundreds of years. In the mid-1500s, Portuguese explorers discovered deposits of green tourmaline, but mistook it for emerald. The stone began to gain prominence in the late 1800s thanks to Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz.
Tourmalines have many exciting color varieties including rebullite (shades of red), Paraíba tourmaline (intense blue shades), parti-colored tourmaline (more than one color), and chrome tourmaline (intense green), among others.
Tourmaline jewelry is great for shoppers who love color and the beauty of precious gemstones such as ruby, but at a lower price point. It is a birthstone for October (along with opal), and is used to celebrate couples’ eighth anniversaries.
Tsavorite is another gem (from the garnet family) that was ‘discovered’ relatively recently in 1970. Four years later, industry pioneer and leader Tiffany & Company introduced it to the U.S. jewelry industry. Thanks to its vivid green color and low availability, tsavorite jewelry became very desirable.
The color of tsavorite is always intense and is usually untreated, ranging from yellowish green to bright green. It’s a great, high quality alternative to emerald that is also exotic. Cuts range from traditional to fancy shapes and is set beautifully in white or yellow gold.
As part of the garnet family, it can be considered a birthstone for January and is symbolic of the second wedding anniversary. Modern and intriguing, tsavorite is a great option for rings, pendants, pins and charms – guaranteed to add some zest to your jewelry collection.