From your favorite gemstone to gemstones you've never heard of, we have fun facts and exclusive information in our new and improved gemstone encyclopedia.
Hickoryite is a red, pink, and yellow banded variety of Rhyolite that comes from Rodeo, State of Durango, Mexico. Autumn or rainbow hickoryite is mostly brown or tan with red, pink, or yellow bands.
Hiddenite is the green chromium-rich variety of spodumene, which is rarer than its pink sibling, kunzite. Hiddenite is named for American gemologist William Hidden, who first discovered this transparent green variety in North Carolina in the area that now also bears its name, Hiddenite.
Natural animal horns have been used for both practical purposes and adornment for millennia. Horn is distinctively beautiful with natural earthy to golden and one-of-a-kind color variations. Its soft nature lends to ornate carving.
Not well known to the general public, howlite is one of those minerals that is almost more famous for imitating another mineral. In this case, the other mineral is turquoise, a phosphate gemstone. Howlite is naturally milky white in color and often has dark vein-like mineral inclusions. Because of its porosity, it accepts dye fairly easily, achieving a turquoise-like blue color. Howlite accepts a nice polish and its porcelain-like luster is appealing.
Hydroxyapophyllite crystals are tabular and are frequently striated. It is typically colorless or white, but can be pink, light green, pale yellow, blue, brown, or violet. The mineral can be found in Jefferson, NC and Kimberley, South Africa.
Hypersthene is a common mineral in the pyroxene group that rarely forms distinct crystals. Hypersthene is similar in appearance to hornblende, but it is a harder material. Since the hardness difference was the main way to tell the stones apart the Greek words “hyper” meaning above and “stenos” meaning power gave the inspiration for the name. It is usually brown, green, or gray with vitreous to pearly luster and displays a brilliant coppery metallic surface sheen.
Idocrase, also known as vesuvianite after its discovery at Mount Vesuvius, has crystals that are prismatic and glassy. It is usually green or chartreuse in color, but may be found in yellow to brown, yellow-green, red, black, blue or purple hues.
Ilvaite is name after the “Ilva” the Latin name for the island of Elba, Italy. It is black and forms in prismatic columns or large masses of indistinguishable crystals.
Indicolite is one of the most valuable and collectible of all elbaite tourmalines, with hues spanning from lighter to deep, intense blues. Cutting indicolite can be a task for even the most skilled of cutters, as it is strongly pleochroic and appears darker when viewed down the crystal. This factor must be taken into consideration when cutting, as a loss of transparency and brilliance can occur in darker specimens.
Inesite is part of the triclinic crystal system. It typically has pink spindly crystals that radiate out in fan like clusters. The mineral gets its name from the Greek word for “flesh fibers” due to its appearance. It is a late-stage hydrothermal mineral found in manganese deposits.
Iolite is the gem-quality blue or blue-violet variety of cordierite. While iolite enjoyed popularity in jewelry in 18th-century Europe, this naturally beautiful gemstone is relatively new to today's jewelry market, and is regaining popularity with the public. Because of its varying levels of hardness and strong pleochroism, iolite is one of the most difficult stones for lapidaries to fashion. It must be cut in certain directions to take advantage of the best color, which can be tough when the shape of the rough doesn't lend itself to cutting in that same direction.
Ivory has long been treasured for its beautiful white color and ability to be finely carved. As opposed to bone or horn, ivory is derived from the teeth and tusks of animals. Because of the devastating impact of poaching due to the ivory trade, the importation and sale of such materials is severely restricted or banned in many countries.
The term jade is used for jadeite and nephrite jade. For centuries the two materials were considered one and the same. It was not until 1863 that they were identified as different minerals with a similar appearance and properties. Jadeite jade is a member of the pyroxene group and is primarily composed of the mineral jadeite. Nephrite is a tough rock comprised of intergrown crystals of minerals from the tremolite-actinolite solid solution series, part of the amphibole group.
Jade has been treasured for some 7,000 years for its unique luster, lovely color and impeccable toughness. This precious gem has always had special significance in many Asian cultures, and can be compared to the West's admiration of diamonds and gold. For centuries, nephrite jade and jadeite were considered one and the same. It was not until 1863 that they were identified as different minerals with a similar appearance and properties.
Jasper is an opaque, fine grained variety of chalcedony quartz. It is typically found in red, yellow, brown or green colors and is generally spotted with these colors. Its name comes from the Latin word for the gem, iaspis, meaning "spotted stone."
Jeremejevite was named for a Russian mineralogist in 1883, but there are rarely any specimens found in Russia today. Recently Namibia has started to produce some mentionable crystals, but in such small amounts the stone is still very rare. Jeremejevite is typically found in pale blue-green, cornflower-blue to yellowish brown hues.
Jet is generally classified as a lignite coal and has a high carbon content and a layered structure. It is typically black to dark brown and can sometimes contain tiny inclusions of pyrite. Jet has been carved for ornamental purposes since prehistoric times. The term “jet black” gets its name from the color of jet. There is hard jet that forms in saltwater and soft jet that forms in freshwater.
In 1996 a German company started marketing Japanese Freshwater Pearls as Kasumiga Pearls. The average size of these are between 10mm to 15mm but can grow up to 20mm. Kasumiga Pearls are known for their excellent color and luster. The most valuable pearls are round to near round but they also come in interesting baroque shapes.
Kornerupine comes in colors ranging from brown to beautiful emerald green to shades of yellow. It has distinctive trichroic pleochroism. Star material has been found in Mogok, Myanmar and is due to tiny rutile and graphite inclusions. Because of its extreme rarity, kornerupine is a highly sought-after collectors stone.
Kunzite is the pink to violetish purple variety of spodumene. The stone gets its color from trace amounts of manganese. Kunzite is better known than other spodumene varieties like hiddenite (green) and triphane (yellow). To obtain the best color and saturation in a stone it must be faceted with the table perpendicular to the length of the rough crystal. Kunzite often forms in large crystals that are highly sought after by mineral collectors. Kunzite displays strong fluorescence and phosphorescence that also makes it attractive fluorescent mineral collectors.
Kyanite is named for the Greek word for blue, kyanos. And what a blue! Fine Nepali kyanite can resemble the finest sapphire. Kyanite was a gem far better known to mineral collectors until more recent finds in the Kali Gandaki river region of west central Nepal, the first source to produce a significant amount of facet grade kyanite. Prior to the Nepal discoveries, Brazil was a major source of mineral specimen material, but kyanite also occurs in a variety of locations around the world. More recent kyanite discoveries have yielded additional colors, including orange and green.
Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar. The phenomenal variety that shows labradorescence is the best-known variety, but rainbow moonstone, Oregon sunstone, and transparent yellow labradorite are also labradorite feldspars. Displaying brilliant pastels and deep golden colors, phenomenal labradorite features a spellbinding "black rainbow" of color. When appreciating the iridescent play of colors known as labradorescence, observe the strength and intensity by viewing from different angles, as different colors or even a range of colors may be visible from different positions. Rainbow moonstone has the best transparency of all the moonstone varieties. Labradorite sunstone is the only sunstone variety that contains copper platelets. The large sizes and clarity of yellow labradorite makes it a favorite of gemcutters.
Discover the mystical allure of rich, royal blue and sparkling golden specks found in lapis lazuli. Very few gems have such a long and storied history as lapis lazuli. Along with carnelian, it is the oldest known gemstones to be appreciated and worn as adornment. When lapis lazuli was first introduced to Europe, it was called ultramarine, meaning "beyond the sea." The gem was ground to a powder for use as early eye shadow, and as pigment for early oil paints. Today, this rich blue gem still retains the allure that first captivated humans thousands of years ago.
Larimar is a rare blue to green variety of pectolite, a mineral prized mainly by specimen collectors. While pectolite may be found in several locations, including Canada, England, and the U.S., larimar is found only in the Dominican Republic. This unique blue gem formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago that created the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The most prized larimar exhibits sky blue color with a white pattern throughout, reminiscent of sunlight dancing on the floor of a pool. This gem was named by its discoverer for both his daughter, Larissa, and el mar, the sea.