The role of jewelry in fashion goes back thousands of years. In almost every instance, precious gemstones serve as the central figure in an elaborate piece of finely crafted art. The colors, textures, and eternal luster of cut and polished gems are impossible to ignore, drawing the attention of all who gaze in their direction. Paired with a body of silver, gold, or platinum, gemstones are the soul of fine jewelry.
Yet, for fine jewelry to become an elegant part of a beautiful outfit, the wearer has to pair it according to color and theme. That means having a general understanding of what makes precious gems unique from one another. With this in mind, let’s take a look at ten popular gemstones:
The enduring popularity of diamonds is a testament to their timeless beauty and famed durability. Diamonds come from deep beneath the earth’s surface and take billions of years to form naturally. The clean and sleek look of cut and polished diamonds makes them a seamless fit for most outfits calling for a piece of fine jewelry.
There’s no mistaking the lush red color of a genuine ruby stone. Cultures and civilizations around the world have prized natural ruby jewelry for centuries, making it one of the most valuable gemstones on the planet. The rich red hue of rubies is owed to trace amounts of chromium dispersed throughout the gemstone.
While the most widely recognized garnet is red, garnets are a set of similar minerals that can form gems in a wide variety of hues. The variability of garnets is a testament to their availability, making garnet jewelry a more affordable option compared to other precious stones.
Many people are surprised to learn there’s a purple gemstone. Known as amethyst, the violet-hued stones are a form of quartz. Similar to garnet, amethyst is known as a gemstone of the ordinary person due to its affordability.
Colorless topaz is commonly altered to have a blue color, but natural topaz stones have their own natural hues. Authentic topaz colors include pink, orange, red, and even purple.
Gemstones referred to as sapphire can be any colored corundum that isn’t ruby red. The only thing that makes sapphires different from rubies is color. Blue sapphire is most popular, but there are several other shades available, commonly referred to as “fancy sapphires.”
Sourced from mollusks living in the ocean and freshwater lakes, pearls are among the most widely recognizable precious stones on the planet. Commonly used in strands to form iconic pearl necklaces, they’re also frequently fitted into rings and earrings.
A polished and treated form of feldspar, moonstone appears unearthly and even a little eerie. The longer you look, the more mysterious this gemstone starts to seem.
A classic blueish-green gemstone forever associated with Ireland and the Wizard of Oz, emerald is an offshoot of beryl, a mineral category that includes aquamarine. It’s a dazzling gem with an earthy and organic presence, perfect for various jewelry designs.
When trying to describe the look of opal, the word psychedelic comes to mind. Look long enough, and you’ll start to see comets, nebulas, and flying saucers—the more kaleidoscopic the stone, the more valuable the opal.
Readers can learn more about these and other precious gems by visiting the Gemological Institute of America’s Guide to Gemstones. It’s a treasure trove of information about all the sparkly jewels and shiny stones used to make necklaces, earrings, and more.
The right piece of fine jewelry can be the perfect touch to a great outfit. But to make the most of these dazzling accessories, one must appreciate what makes each gemstone special.