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Gemstone guide


Gemstone Guide

A gemstone is a beautiful commodity to own, they come in a form of mineral or a rock. Gemstones have been collected by connoisseurs for generations and play an important role in investments today. But investments aside gemstones are just beautiful and at Magnons we make a lot of jewelry with gems be it an engagement ring or a cocktail ring. If you are thinking of purchasing a gemstones or creating a custom piece make sure you read our guide first to make the right decision on your new purchase!

Gemstones are available in many colors however most people prefer them facetted as they are much prettier cut and polished than in their rough state.

On the basis of its formation, gemstones are classified into five categories:

Gems are dependent on certain characteristics when it comes to desirability and value. Please see characteristics below to consider when buying a gemstone.

Often, there are spikes in sales for jewelry or gemstones that are desirable and often desirable because of media, a good example are salt and pepper diamonds. We have known them for years but their popularity spiked up only in the recent years due to awareness, media etc. The fashion plays a big part in jewelry and gems and their prices can sky rocked because an actress got proposed with a certain style or diamond.


Gemstone Guide

This Gemstone Education defines the five most essential characteristics of Gemstone along with tips for its care. By understanding these characteristics, you'll be able to make a conscious decision when purchasing a gem or that gemstone engagement ring you were eyeing.


The color of a gemstone is its most significant often because the nature made this color and it might just be that there is no other comparable gemstone of the same color. The color plays a very important part and divides into hue, saturation and tone.


Clarity is a term used to describe the flaws inside or on the surface of a gemstone. A flawless gemstone is very rare and thus very pricy, however this is only true if the gemstone comes from a family of included gemstones. For example, to find a clear amethyst or a citrine is very easy and even if flawless it would not cost that much however to find an emerald flawless would be very hard and thus would be very expensive. Why? Because emeralds are quiet included by default whereas quartz is not included by default. Most gemstones have inclusions, or tiny mineral flaws, that can be seen under microscope or under a loop. A gemstone may have inclusions, spots, clouds, cracks, zoning, feathers or even bugs amongst all imperfections.

Clarity is the second biggest characteristic to consider when buying a gemstone. The concept is the same as diamonds, the less inclusions the better however in colored stones the inclusions can be seen with a naked eye and still be very expensive as there are other factors that would sky rocket the gem price.

For clarity in gemstones we use three categories TypeI,II,III this is similar to diamonds scale (F) being flawless to Included (I3)


Good cut is something that may give a gemstone its natural beauty and brilliance. A gemstone's cut refers to its proportions and symmetry. The stone should be symmetrical in all dimensions so that it will appear balanced, and so that its facets will reflect light evenly, which will provide good brilliance to stone. The brilliance will be maximized if the light travels fast through the stone. A well-cut faceted gemstone reflects light back evenly across its surface area when held face up. If the stone is too deep and narrow, surface area will be dark and if it is too shallow and wide, parts of the stone will be washed out and dull.

While cutting, color of a gemstone should also be taken into account for optical efficiency. If a stone's color is highly saturated, a shallow cut will allow it to pass more light, while a deeper cut may increase the vividness of a less saturated gem. There is no generally accepted grading system for gemstone cut.

There are many different cuts such as old european, old mine, single cut, square, triangular, emerald, step, trapezoid,square, triangular, step and many more.

The process of cutting and polishing gems is called gem cutting or lapidary, while a person who cuts and polishes gems is called a gem cutter or a lapidary. Few gemstones such as pearls and coral (usually referred to organic minerals) are not cut at all and many times left in their natural state. However, it is customary to polish these items, as with all gemstones. The quality of a gemstone's cut can have a dramatic impact on how it looks but only a small impact on the price per carat because the color and clarity means more.


A gemstone’s weight is also measured in carats(like a diamond) where one carat equals 200 milligrams. Different types of stones have different densities and thus two gemstones of the same carat weight may be completely different in size. For example, 1ct emerald will be smaller than 1ct ruby because the emerald is less dense than a sapphire or a ruby.Gemstones can also be measured in dimensions (diameter, length, and width).

Illustration of gemstone dimensions and cut (insert)
Much unlike diamonds, the gemstones are not more valuable with size or can be valuable but not necessarily. For example amethyst of a large size is not uncommon thus is not rare and not that valuable but an emerald of a large size will cost a lot of money because its more rare and harder to find on the market.


Gemstone Enhancement is a treatment process other than cutting and polishing that improves the appearance (color / clarity), durability or availability of a gemstone. This treatment covers heating, oiling, bleaching, irradiation, waxing, dying and others.

There are many ways to enhance the appearance and durability of gemstones. Some of these treatments or enhancements, are permanent where as others are temporary. Gemstone enhancement has become such a common as well as accepted practice that experts believe the vast majority of stones are treated in some way. It's important to remember that most gemstone enhancements greatly improve the appearance - and hence the value - of a stone.

All gemstones can be present with the following:

  1. N – The ‘N’ symbol appears on the chart only for natural stones which are not currently known to be enhanced
  2. E – The ‘E’ symbol appears on the chart only for those gemstones, which are routinely enhanced.
  3. Third category covers those gemstones which are treated in a non-traditional manner.

Chart for Gemstone Enhancement Information

B - Bleaching: The use of chemicals or other agents to lighten or remove a gemstone's color. Pearls and ivory also may be bleached to lighten their color.

C - Coating: The use of such surface enhancements as lacquering, enameling, inking, foiling, or sputtering of films to improve appearance, provide color or add other special effects.

D - Dyeing: The introduction of coloring matter into a gemstone to give it new color, intensify present color or improve color uniformity.

F - Filling: As a by-product of heat enhancement, the presence of solidified borax or similar colorless substances which are visible under properly illuminated 10X magnification.

G - Gamma/Electron Irradiation: The use of gamma and/or electron bombardment to alter a gemstone's color; may be followed by a heating process.

H - Heating: Heating is one of the most common treatments used to enhance the natural beauty of colored gemstones. It is a permanent process that can dramatically improve the color and/or clarity in a number of stones, including sapphires, rubies, diamonds, aquamarine, amethyst, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline and other stones.

I - Infilling: The intentional filling of surface breaking cavities or fractures usually with glass, plastic, opticon with hardeners and/or other hardened foreign substances to improve durability, appearance and/or add weight.


Rule 1:

Do not spray the parfume or cologne or hairspray directly onto jewellery this will damage most gemstones in a long run as they are much more sensitive than a diamond.

Do not wear it when cleaning, washing dishes, gardening, gym, yoga, pool or spa as all those things will not help maintain the gemstone or jewllery piece.

Do use soap water and cloth to clean your jewellery regularly, you can even use a tooth brush and water and soap to clean your jewellery.

Do use professional jewelery places to clean your jewellery once a year as they have the machinery and tools to do it with the most care and professional knowledge.

Storing your jewelry:

Please store it in a dark place preferably in cloth or separate bags as the jewelry should not touch another jewelry piece not to scratch each other. If you are storing it together make sure the space gets dark as the sun can have a negative impact on gemstones.


Gemstone Guide – Precious and Semi-Precious gems

Precious Stones
Gemstones which are highly valuable for their hardness and rarity, are known as Precious Stones. Precious Stones are generally expensive in comparison of Semi-Precious Stones. There are only four Precious Stones:

Diamond is a number one precious stone. Please read more in our guide about diamonds. (insert link)

Color - Emerald Green to Dark Green
Mohs hardness scale - 7.5 - 8
Mineral Class - Beryl
Source - Found in USA, Columbia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and South Africa

The name of this beautiful gemstone comes from Greek 'Smaragdos', meaning 'Green Stone'. Its beautiful green color often called either Bluish Green or Yellow green as itmostly divided into the two colors with the hues. The emeralds are one of the hardest gemstones to understand as one stone could be very included but very expensive and another can be not included but not as expensive, lots of factors play in determination of price of emeralds.

Color - Red, brownish-red, purplish-red, dark red, pinkish red
Mohs hardness scale - 9
Mineral Class - Corundum
Source - Found mainly in Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Tanzania

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, one of the hardest minerals on Earth, of which the sapphire is also a variety. Corundum is a mineral from which ruby sapphire come. Only red corundum is entitled to be called ruby, all other colors being classified as sapphires. The most rare and desirable ruby color is known in the trade as 'pigeon's blood' red.

The name of this gemstone comes from Latin 'Rubens' for 'Red'. In Sanskrit, the ruby is called 'Ratnaraj', means 'the king of precious stones'. For years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. It has a magnificent color, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance among many other characteristics. The most important thing about the ruby is its color, a bright red fiery color that no other stone posses.This gemstone also has hardness, durability, luster, and rarity too as transparent rubies of larger sizes are even harder to find than a diamond.

Color - Blue, Yellow, Green, White, Colorless, Pink, Orange, Brown, Purple, Gray
Mohs hardness scale - 9
Mineral Class - Corundum
Source - Found mainly in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Australia, India, Brazil and Africa

Sapphire is also a variety of the mineral Corundum and represents all the colors except red Corundum, which is Ruby. Its physical and chemical properties are virtually similar to properties of Ruby. Blue is the main color of the Sapphire whereas this gemstone is also found in colors like green, orange, pink, gray, colorless, black, brown, and purple. The word 'Sapphire' in its plain context refers only to blue Sapphire, unless a prefix color is specified. Sapphire with a color other than blue is often called a 'Fancy' in the gem trade.

Sapphire is the most desired in the blue color although today we see a lot more demand for fancy colored sapphire as the time changes. It is a most desirable gem due to its color, hardness, durability, and luster. Value of this gemstone depends on its size, color and transparency. Top-quality sapphires are rare and cost a lot. Today a sapphire is the second most widely used gemstone after a diamond when it comes to engagement rings.

Semi-Precious Stones

Color - Dark to Pale Green- Dark to pale pinkish red (color is changed in different forms of lights)
Mohs hardness scale - 8.5
Mineral Class - Chrysoberyl
Source - Found mainly in Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Burma, Madagascar, USA

Alexandrite is a form of the mineral Chrysoberyl, discovered in 1830 in Russia and named after Czar Alexander II, who was then Crown Prince of Russia. This is a very attractive and rare stone today, and therefore finely faceted Alexandrite above one carat is among the most expensive gemstones in the world, rarer than fine Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald. Alexandrite can cost much more than a diamond due to its rarity.

The most sensational feature about this stone is its ability to change its color under different forms of light. Green or bluish-green in daylight, red in candle light, green in fluorescent light and reddish-purple in standard electric light.

Color - Deep Blue, Light Violet-Blue, Purple
Mohs hardness scale - 6 - 7
Mineral Class - Quartz
Source - Found in Tanzania

Tanzanite is an extraordinary and beautiful gemstone. Tanzanite is a blue variety of the gemstone zoisite discovered in 1967 at Merelani Hills in Tanzania. It is named after the East African state of Tanzania, the only place in the world where it has been found. Due to this reason, this stone is particularly highly desired.

Tanzanite is a trichroic gem which displays three layers of color. The colors dark blue, green-yellow and red-purple can be seen. Nearly all tanzanite has been heat treated to generate the beautiful violet-blue color this stone is known for.

Although Tanzanite is relatively new on the gemstone market, but has left its mark. Tanzanite is popular for its brilliance and widely distributed gemstone. But on the same time, Tanzanite is a delicate gemstone and it should always be worn with care.

Color - Purple, Pale lavender to deep reddish purple, bluish violet
Mohs hardness scale - 7
Mineral Class - Quartz
Source - Found mainly in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Burma, Canada, East Africa, India, North America, Russia, Uruguay, Madagascar, Australia

Amethyst is a variety of Quartz family, colored by traces of manganese, titanium and iron. Deeper-colored amethysts are more highly valued. Rich purple has always been a rare and noble color and often comes from Africa. Amethyst’s name comes from Greek word 'Amethystos' mean 'Not Intoxicated' or ‘Not Drunken’.

Color - Blue, Bluish Green, Green
Mohs hardness scale - 7.5 - 8
Mineral Class - Beryl
Source - Found mainly in Brazil, Russia, Madagascar, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique and USA

Its name is derived from the Latin 'Aqua' (water) and 'Mare' (sea). Aquamarine is one of the most popular and best-known gemstones, the intensity of the color determines the price. Aquamarine that are very intense can be very rare and pricy. Its hardness makes it very tough and easy to work with and wear everyday without worrying about scratches.

Color - Light Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Amber-Brown, Deep Orange
Mohs hardness scale - 7
Mineral Class - Quartz
Source - Found mainly in S.America, Brazil, Madagascar, Argentina, Russia, Scotland

Citrine is a variety of mineral Quartz and often mistakenly called ‘Topaz’. This radiant, lemony yellow gemstone gets its name from the French word ‘Citrin’, meaning ‘Yellow’. There are not many yellow gemstones in the world of jewels and the Citrine fulfils everyone's color wishes, from lemon yellow to reddish brown, this gemstone is used in jewelry making a lot mainly because its versatile and not as expensive.

Color - Light Red, Violet, Red, White, Green, Yellow, Brown, Black
Mohs hardness scale - 6.5-7.5
Mineral Class - Quartz
Source - Found mainly in Burma, Sri Lanka, South Africa, USA, Tanzania, Madagascar, India, Australia, Czech Republic

Garnet is a family of stones having many varieties of color, the most commonly used garnet in jewellery making is the red garnet. This name is derived from its resemblance in color and shape to the seeds of the pomegranate. The most common color of Garnets range from light red to violet, white, green, yellow, brown and black.

Garnet Stones have a name for every color unlike other gems:

Color - Black, White, Black with White bands, Red, Brown
Mohs hardness scale - 6.5 - 7
Mineral Class - Quartz
Source - Found in Madagascar, India, Brazil, USA, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Onyx is a beautiful gemstone composed of chalcedony, a family of quartz. This gemstone usually comes in white, black or black with white bands. The bands that are found on Onyx run parallel and are consistent.Onyx which is available in a red, brown or reddish brown color is known as Sardonyx.

Onyx was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The name comes from the Greek word 'onyx', which means nail or claw. In fine jewelry, used a lot in mens rings, cames, beads and others. Onyx is inexpensive and a good color to pair with other gems or diamonds, it also looks great in any gold color and therefore widely used with gold.

Color - Black, White, Gray, Yellow, Orange, Red and Colorless
Mohs hardness scale - 5 - 6.5
Source - Found mainly in Australia, Brazil, Mali, Mexico, Japan, Russia, USA

Opal is a very popular gemstone, mainly due to its wonderful variety of rich and beautiful colors of the rainbow. One of the extraordinary features of this gemstone is called Opalescence. Opalescence is a kind of light play that happens with certain high quality stones. Light reflects and bounces around the very small structures of the stone, giving it a wonderful aura and sometimes iridescence.

The name Opal is derived from three sources: Sanskrit ‘Upala’, Latin ‘Opalus’, and Greek ‘Opallios’. All three of these words mean the same thing – precious stone.

Opals come in many colors, including black, white, gray, yellow, colorless, orange and red. Red is considered the most popular and attractive colors that Opal comes in. There are usually two types of red colors – cherry red and fire red. Fire red is usually the most popular and possibly the most expensive due to its wonderful hue and rarity.

Australia is the major supplier of Fine Opals and almost 95 per cent of all Opals come from Australian mines. Opal is made from sand and water. It has the same chemical formula as quartz with the addition of 3 -10 % water content. And due to this reason, opals must be protected from harsh light and heat, which could dry it out and cause cracks. Opal is relatively less hard than many other stones and must be worn with caution and care to avoid chips or other breakage. Opals that are natural without any enhancements of larger sizes are hard to find. There are many doublet on the market which are still opals but they are glued to a background plastic piece to enhance seeing the rainbow play of colors.

Color - White, White tinted with Cream, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Brown, Purple, or Black.
Mohs hardness scale - 2.5 - 4.5
Source - Found mainly in Persian Gulf, China Sea, other seas

A Pearl is an organic gem, produced when certain mollusks, primarily oysters cover a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. A good sized Pearl can take between five to eight years to form, which is usually the entire life of the oyster or mollusk.

There are two types of Pearls available today. Natural Pearls, formed inside wild oysters and Cultured Pearls in which the production of the pearl is artificially induced in a farm environment. For producing cultured pearls, shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. The finest Natural Pearls are fished almost exclusively from the Persian Gulf and the China Sea. Fine Natural Pearls are much more expensive and rare to find than Cultured Pearls.

Pearls are usually white, sometimes with a creamy or pinkish tinge, but may be tinted with yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, or black. Pearls are available in different shapes: round, pear,semi-round, button, drop, oval and baroque. Perfectly round Pearls are the rarest and most expensive. Pearl should be treated with great care as its gentle and can be harmed easily.

Color - Yellow Green, Olive, Brownish Green
Mohs hardness scale - 6.5 - 7
Mineral Class - Olivine
Source - Found mainly in Australia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, China, Burma, Arizona, USA, Pakistan, Afghanistan

The Peridot is a very popular gemstone. It is a verity of mineral olivine. Chemically Peridot is an iron-magnesium-silicate. The intensity of the green color of the stone depends on the amount of iron contained. Peridot is formed deep within the earth under tremendous heat and pressure and the beauty is the result of these extreme conditions.

This gemstone is in fact identified by three names, Peridot, Chrysolith and Olivin. ‘Peridot’ is derived from Greek word ‘Peridona’, which mean ‘giving plenty’. The word ‘Chrysolith’ means ‘goldstone’ in Greek. It is one of the few stones that exist only in one color. The most beautiful Peridot comes from Pakistan-Afghanistan border, its got a nice intense green color and is a desired gem in todays market.


Color - Violet-Blue, Deep Blue, Light Blue-Gray, Yellow-White
Mohs hardness scale - 7 – 7.5
Mineral Class - Cordierite
Source - Found mainly in India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Brazil

The name Iolite comes from the Greek word 'Ion', which means ‘Violet’. Iolite is often confused with Tanzanite because of its similarity in color. Generally, Iolite is a deeper shade of violet and darker in tone, with hues ranging from deep blue, purple, lavendar, and gray-blue.

This gem is used widely in jewelry making but is still not very known to many people today.

Color - Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Yellow, White, Colorless
Mohs hardness scale - 8
Mineral Class - Topaz
Source - Found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria, USA, Australia, Madagascar and Mexico

Topaz is a member of Quartz family. This beautiful gemstone most commonly found in yellow color. A Topaz turns a vivid blue when exposed to heat. Also the Topaz is said to have power of changing color when it’s near poison. The name topaz is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Tapas’, meaning ‘Fire’.

Although Topaz is considered tough and durable gemstone but still cracks and chips a lot easier than other gemstones and should be worn with care.

Color - Black, Red, Pink, Blue, Green, Gray and Yellow
Mohs hardness scale - 7 – 7.5
Mineral Class - Quartzite
Source - Found mainly in Brazil, Sri Lanka, South Africa, USA, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan

Tourmalines are gemstones with deep brilliance and huge variety of colors. The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words 'tura mali', means something like 'stone with mixed colors'. Tourmalines with different colors have different names. For example, rubellite is a tourmaline with intense pink color.Stones with two colors are known as bicolored tourmalines, a green and pink tourmaline is called watermelon, and those with more than two are known as multicolored tourmalines.

This gemstone has excellent wearing qualities and is easy to look after not to mention they are also fascinating as the colors in tourmalines are very unique.


Color- Yellowish Green to Reddish Pink

Mohs harness scale: 6.5-7

Mineral- Oxide Mineral

Source- Found in Russia and Turkey

Diaspore was first discovered in 1801 in Russia in Middle Urals, Sverdlovskaya Oblast, diaspore name came from Greek which means “to scatter” This beautiful gemstone today carries many names including Zultanite, Sultanite, Zultani,Ottomanite, Csarite. This is a very unique gemstone much like Alexandrite it is able to change color. The gem appears to be yellow green in daylight and pinkish red in candlelight. The downside of this stone is that its very brittle and thus today its very expensive if found and faceted in larger sizes.