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.
Named for its resemblance to zoisite, clinozoisite is a colorless to pale grayish-yellow to green-colored mineral ideal for faceting. This gem was first discovered in Austria 1896, but there are many locations world wide where specimens have been found.
Cloisonné is an enameling or inlay technique used to decorate jewelry or other metallic objects. The enamel or gemstones are applied to create patterns or geometric designs. The colored material is placed in compartments or in between raised strips of metal. The earliest examples of the technique can be found in Egypt, Mycenae, and Mesopotamia and date to around 1200 to 1101 BC. Cloisonné has been used as a decorative technique by many cultures around the globe.
Cobaltocalcite refers to a stunning pink-red to slightly purplish-red cobalt-rich calcite mineral. Another name for this stone is cobaltoan calcite. Crystals often form as drusy masses and when faceted, gems are rarely seen in sizes greater than 2 carats.
A major source of boron, colemanite was discovered in 1884 and named for the owner of the California mine where it was first found, William Tell Coleman. The color of this stone ranges from colorless to white to grey, sometimes yellowish. Specimens are very sensitive to heat. The short, prismatic crystals are often sought after by collectors. Colemanite is rarely seen in the form of gemstones as it presents a challenge to lapidaries because crystals are soft, brittle and have perfect cleavage.
A conch is a marine gastropod or, more simply, a large sea snail. Conchs are valued for their meat, shell, and non-nacreous pearls. Conch pearls are formed by concentric layers of fibrous calcium. This layering often produces a much-desired flame structure, which is characteristic of conch pearls. Because they are a calcareous concretion, the pearls have a porcelain finish and luster, very similar to the interior of the conch shell. Conch pearls are usually found as a by-product as fishermen clean their catch for conch meat. The gems are usually baroque or oval and generally a salmon-colored orange pink.
Copal can be thought of as 'baby amber.' Like its much older counterpart, it is a hardened resin that originated as tree sap. Copal is similar in both appearance and chemistry to amber. Opinions vary from source to source as to when copal becomes amber, but the general consensus is that organic resin younger than 10 million years old is copal, while anything older is amber. As amber can be as old as 360 million years old, copal is substantially younger.
Many minerals are copper ores, meaning they contain copper that could actually be extracted. Copper weathering is often involved in the unique coloration of specimens. Popular minerals that fall in this category include azurite, malachite and chrysocolla.
Coquina is a poorly cemented limestone that is composed of shells and remains of fossilized invertebrates like brachiopods, mollusks, and trilobites. It gets its name from the Spanish word for shellfish.
Coral has been prized throughout history for its natural beauty. Like pearl, coral is also an biogenic gem consisting of more than 90% calcium carbonate. All coral consists of the remains of skeleton-like support structures that were built by colonies of very small marine animals, known as coral polyps. Proteinaceous coral differs from calcareous coral because it is made up of strong keratin proteins.
Cortez pearls come from the Gulf of California also known as the “Sea of Cortez”. The pearls are harvested from the Panamic Black-Lipped Oyster (Pinctada mazatlanica) and the Rainbow-Lipped mollusk (Pteria sterna). Only about 4,000 pearls harvested each year meet the industry’s quality standards to be sold on the gem market. The pearls have a beautiful luster due to their exceptional nacre thickness. The pearls can come in silver, gray, gold, green, blue, violet, purple, and black with pink, violet, blue and green overtones. The pearls average 6.5 to 8.5mm but some 14mm pearls are known.
Corundum is a mineral species best known for its two popular gemstone varieties, sapphire and ruby. All colors of corundum except red are known as sapphire. The term sapphire, when used without any modifiers, refers to only the blue variety of corundum. Red stones are known as ruby. Material that are not gemstones are simply known by the name corundum.
Creedite was discovered in the Colorado Fluorspar Co. Mine in 1916. The mine is located in the Creede Quadrangle, Mineral County, Colorado and this was the inspiration for its name. It comes in colorless, orange, purple, violet, and white prismatic crystals that sometime radiate from the base.
Crocoite was once called “Red Lead Ore” due to its lead content. The name Crocoite comes from "crocon" the Greek word saffron. Specimens are bright yellow, orange, or dark red and typically form as long prismatic crystals. Some of the best examples come from Australia.
Lead glass or crystal glass is frequently called crystal. George Ravenscroft patented a process for making lead crystal around 1673 in London. The addition of barium oxide, lead oxide, potassium oxide or zinc oxide, to glass improves clarity, raises the refractive index, and increases dispersion. Famous crystal manufacturing houses are located in Austria, France, Ireland, and Sweden.
Cubic Zirconia (abbreviated CZ) is the best-known man-made diamond simulant. A simulant is any material, natural or created by man, which imitates the appearance of a natural gem whereas a synthetic gem is man-made but must have a natural counterpart that duplicates the chemical, optical, and physical properties of the natural gem. While it's often touted as the most popular diamond simulant, cubic zirconia is also a synthetic gem. Natural crystals of cubic zirconia have only been found as inclusions in zircon.
Cuprite is a secondary mineral formed by the oxidation of copper sulfide veins. It is commonly found with native copper and malachite, and forms as both transparent red and lustrous, submetallic crystals. Transparent crystals may be faceted if large enough, but specimens are also commonly displayed as a glittering bed of crystals.
Danalite is a very rare brown, yellow to pink-red colored mineral named for the American mineralogist James Dwight Dana in 1866. Danalite has a limited number of global sources, including the New England states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Delaware.
In 1839 American mineralogist Charles Upham Shephard discovered a clear, bright, colorless gemstone in Danbury, Connecticut, and named it danburite after the location. Unfortunately for danburite, it was discovered at a time when colored gemstones were heavily promoted and highly desired. This colorless find, therefore, didn't create much excitement at that time. Danburite, which belongs to a class of minerals known as silicates, remained relatively unknown for years, but is steadily growing in popularity today.
Datolite is a phyllo-borosilicate commonly forming as nodules in igneous rocks. Facet-grade material rarely yields gems larger than 10 carats, with most being significantly smaller. Colorless, transparent datolite gems can be found in several locations worldwide, but many come from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia. Copper-stained, opaque nodules from Michigan are typically fashioned into cabochons.
Demantoid garnet is one of the most desirable of all colored gemstones and extremely rare. A color variety of andradite garnet, the name demantoid originates from the old German word demant meaning "diamond-like," because of a luster and dispersion that yields a fire even higher than diamonds.
This type of opal features dendrites, which are fern-like inclusions of iron, manganese, or other metallic oxides that create bold patterns within the gem. Typically, dendritic opals are cut into slices to best exhibit nature's artwork. As you might guess, these pieces are one-of-a-kind, as no two dendritic patterns are the same. Usually these opals are white, yellow, blue, green, or pink and show black inclusions well.
Ahh, diamonds. Everyone knows what diamonds are, but most might not realize what they once were: chunks of dark, nondescript carbon similar to charcoal, roasting and rumbling around deep within the earth. Fortunately, through eruptions and other harsh works of Mother Nature, diamonds eventually find their way to the surface for man to find, cut, polish, and enjoy. Talk about an ugly duckling turning into a swan! Named from the Greek word adamas, meaning "unconquerable," diamonds are renowned for their impeccable hardness and stellar brilliance.
Diaspore is beautiful and exotic in a soft, subtle manner. It is also one of the lesser known of the color-change gemstones. Some of the finest examples of gem quality diaspore are found in Turkey's Anatolian Mountains, but it can be found in numerous places around the globe. A rising star in fine jewelry, it's easy to fall in love with its sparklingly brilliant, tranquil earthy colors.