Vanadinite derives its name from the vanadium contained within its chemical formula. Well-formed mineral specimens are prized by collectors. It comes in red to brown, orange, and yellow. It rarely appears colorless or white. Fine mineral specimens come from Morocco and Namibia.
Variscite is a phosphate mineral that is translucent to opaque with green to bluish green coloring that is often mottled or veined. This gem is commonly cut en cabochon or used for carvings. With a similar appearance to green turquoise, variscite is named for its location of first discovery in Germany. When mined in Utah, some prefer to call it Utahlite.
The Venetian glass industry dates back over 1,500 years. A 1291 Venetian law relocated all glass making to the island of Murano. The stated reason for the law was to prevent fire from destroying the wooden buildings of Venice. Speculation behind the true nature of the law was to protect the design techniques and innovations of the glass artisans from being stolen and taken to other regions. In the early 1800’s the political climate forced the Venetian glass industry into decline. In the Mid 1850’s a resurgence of glassmaking in Venice commenced. The beginning of the 20th century glass makers focused on reproducing classical styles and the rediscovery of the lost techniques of early Venetian artisans. Modern glass artisans are innovating new techniques and inspiring creative designs to establish Venice as the glass blowing capital of the World.
Verdelite refers to green elbaite tourmaline that does not contain chromium. Although green is a common color of tourmaline, not all greens are valued equally. Verdelite gems come in varying shades of green; some so saturated that direct light is necessary to see the body color. From lush grass-green to electric yellow-green to olive, and even bluish green, there is a verdelite gem to fit all tastes.
Vesuvianite, also known as Idocrase 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.
Violane is a manganese-rich, coarse variety of diopside cabbed for ornamental use or carved for decorative purposes. Colors range from light blue to deep violet. The main source is Saint-Marcel, in the Aosta Valley, Italy. Other localities include Greece and the United States (California).
Wavellite was discovered in 1805 at High Down, Filleigh, Devon, England. It was named after a local doctor William Wavell M.D. who brought it to the attention of the mineralogical community. It is translucent and can be found in blue, green, yellow, and white colors. Specimens can be stalactitic or the crystals can radiate from the center creating a spherical structure. Many notable specimens are found from the Ouachita Mountains in Mount Ida, Arkansas.
Whewellite is an unusual mineral because it is a naturally occurring rare organic substance with a definitive chemical formula. Minerals are traditionally inorganic, but whewellite forms crystals with the aid of oxalic acid from coal or organic debris within sedimentary rocks. This mineral is seldom seen by collectors, and almost never as a faceted gem.
Willemite was discovered in 1830 and named after William I, King of the Netherlands. This stone has remarkable luminescent properties. Some specimens glow under an ultraviolet source and continue to glow after the UV light has been removed, a phenomenon called phosphorescence. Specimens that are faceted make beautiful gemstones in blue, yellow, green and brown colors.
This gem was named in 1790 for William Withering, the English physician and naturalist that first described the mineral. This mineral is rarely faceted due to the scarcity of gem-quality rough and also because witherite dust (a primary component of rat poison) is toxic if inhaled. Cut gems are very small and are typically white or colorless.
Wood has been used for ornamentation for thousands of years. It can be carved to make beads or formed into bangles and pendants. It can be used in its natural state for an organic look or dyed to add bright pops of color. The light weight and versatility of wood has made it a popular material of jewelry designers.
Known for its striking orange, yellow, and red hues, nice luster, and unique crystal habits, wulfenite is a lead molybdate that is found in the oxidation zone of lead-ore deposits. Wulfenite typically forms thin, tabular crystals. Finding a crystal thick enough to fashion into a gem is challenging.
Wurtzite is named after French chemist Charles Adolphe Wurtz. It was first described in 1861 after it was discovered in the San José Mine, Oruro City, Cercado Province, Oruro Department, Bolivia. It can be dark reddish brown, yellow to dark brown, to brownish black with a resinous or submetallic luster.
Xaxim is a type of petrified tree fern from a period of time even before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Estimated to be some 270 million years old, these fossilized specimens offer an exciting window into the past. Similar in appearance to the palm tree, xaxim trees can still be found growing in Brazil today. However, they grow very slowly, averaging about 3 inches every 10 years. Featuring all natural color with no enhancement, xaxim is prized by fossil collectors across the globe.
Yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) is a lab created gem first developed in the 1950's. Its primary application was in optics and laser technology, but it turned out to be a convincing diamond simulant. Although YAG has garnet in its name, it is not related to garnet; it is an artificial gemstone with no natural counterpart.
Zandrite® is the brand name for a man-made stone that is highly photochromic. It is a chemically doped variety of glass, whose name is an allusion to alexandrite, an expensive naturally occurring color-change variety of chrysoberyl. Zandrite® is specially formulated by combining rare earth elements (like neodymium, lanthanum, and cerium) to create a stunning color change property. A scientist was the first to create, then realize the potential of this stunning gem (completely by accident).
The majority of gem-quality zincite in the market is the byproduct of Polish metal refineries where the material crystallized in the factory smokestacks and was then harvested during cleaning. Zincite can also be found naturally in a few localities, most notably associated with metamorphosed zinc ore bodies in Sterling, New Jersey, though the crystals are rarely of gem quality.
Radiant zircon is the oldest known gemstone, with some crystals dating back 4 billion years, but also perhaps the most misunderstood. Unfortunately, due to the similarity of zircon's name to the lab created diamond simulant cubic zirconia, many people don't realize that zircon is a beautiful, naturally occurring stone with its own merits. Thanks to its tremendous fire and dispersion, it has been considered a less-expensive stand-in for diamond for many years, although zircon gives us many reasons to sing its praises and appreciate it in its own light.
Zoisite is a mineral species in the epidote group. The most celebrated variety is its blue to violet occurrence, tanzanite, but other zoisite colors include red, pink (thulite), green and purple. Discovered in the early 19th century, zoisite was named after Baron von Zois, an Austrian scientist and mineral collector.