What we all love about gemstones is the great variety of colors they come in. Whether it is emerald, aquamarine, peridot, beryl, star sapphires, or rubies- we teach you about the various precious stones colors and gem shades. Learn what is considered most valuable and what to take into consideration when choosing the right color for your gem.
Color is undoubtedly the most important criteria for evaluating and selecting gem varieties. Because gemstones come in a rainbow of shades, color grading can be very complex. The three key criteria experts look at are hue, tone, and saturation. These attributes combine to create the colors we see. Lighting is another important factor. Gemstone color and brilliance can appear very different depending on the light source.
Major factors that determine color of a gemstone
The gemstone hue is its base color. Hue can combine to produce additional hues in precious stones, such as orangish-red, yellow-orange, yellow-green, yellow-brown, green-blue, or violet-blue. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed a list of 31 hues for describing gemstones: 7 base hues and 24 combination hues. Gemstones with a single pure and vibrant hue tend to be the most highly valued.
Tone describes the lightness to darkness of gem colors. A pink gemstone, for instance, might be categorized as “light pink” or “medium pink” like a green color can range from light lime to deep forest green. The GIA tone scale has a total of 11 points, going from colorless to black.
Saturation is the intensity or purity of a color. With lower saturation, gemstone color becomes less pure and an additional gray or brown hue can be seen. The most desirable gem variety is those with strong saturation and even color throughout.
According to the GIA saturation scale, there are six degrees of saturation, ranging from grayish or brownish to vivid. As saturation decreases, a gem with cool hues can appear grayish, while a gem with warm hues can appear brownish.
Gemstones by color
Star Ruby, Beryl, Red Diamond, Malaya Garnet, Star Garnet, Almandine Garnet, Pyrope Garnet, Rhodolite Garnet, Amber, Fire Opal, Tourmaline, red coral, red Spinel, Imperial Topaz, Sunstone, red Tourmaline, red Zircon
Emerald, Green Garnets: Tsavorite and Demantoid Garnet, Chrome Diopside, Jadeite, Green Sapphire, Green Chrome Tourmaline, Bloodstone, Green Diamond, Green Chrysoberyl, Green Beryl
Blue Green / Blue Gemstones
Sapphire, Blue Tourmaline, Blue Tanzanite, Iolite, Flourite, Aquamarine, Blue Opal, Blue Spinel, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Zircon
Obsidian, Black Tourmaline, Black Onyx, Tahitian Pearl, Black Opal, Schorl Tourmaline
Citrine, yellow Sapphire, Topaz, yellow Tourmaline, Transparent Opal, yellow andradite garnet, spessartine and Mali Garnets, yellow Beryl, Sphene, yellow Zircon, Spodumene and transparent varieties of Labradorite and Orthoclase Feldspar.
White Gemstones or Colorless Gemstones
Diamonds, White Sapphire, White Topaz, White Agate, Pearls, White Opals, White Jade, White Jasper. Whether it’s diamonds or another gem – the white and colorless gems are most often used for an engagement ring with diamond being the most popular choice.
Gemstones can be a variety of different colors. Diamonds are typically completely transparent and white, rubies are red, sapphires come in varying blue hues as well as blue topaz, amethysts can be purple and violet and emeralds are green. Stones that are typically green, for example, can have different colors if they have any impurities or inclusions such as yellow-green, greenish-blue.
The rare gemstone is called Painite which was only discovered in 1950 by a British gemologist called Arthur Charles Davy Pain. Up until 2005, it was believed that there were still fewer than 25 known examples of these gems in the world.
High-quality rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are less abundant than diamonds and, as such, are often more expensive. That said, flawless diamonds can cost well in excess of $10,000 per carat as their supply and how they are cultivated is tightly controlled by the authorities. Diamonds tend to still be the most popular of the gems though and even if there are more expensive ones, diamonds are still the engagement ring go-to gem.
The colors of gemstones are graded by clarity or how pure they appear as well as the quality of color saturation.
Fluorite gemstones and quartz are regarded as the most colorful gemstones. The minerals often display a wide variety of colors and look magnificent in bright lighting. Although they are not the most valuable, they are popular with collectors.
Diamonds are often used as a symbol of eternal love. This is why they are the gemstone of choice for an engagement ring. But other than diamonds, pink gems are also known to convey love.
Of all the different sapphire colors the blue velvet-like colored version of sapphire gems like the Kashmir sapphire is the most prized and the most expensive.
Zircon crystal colors range from blue, brown, champagne, cinnamon, coffee, cognac, golden, green, honey, orange, raspberry, red, saffron, turmeric, white (colorless), and yellow.
Both rubies and sapphires owe their intense colors to impurities. Ruby is due to the presence of chromium, and blue sapphire contains both titanium and iron.
The colors of emeralds include hues ranging from yellow-green to blue-green, with the primary hue being green.
Ruby colors can range from blood-red to orangy-red, purple-red, brown-red, or even pink-red shades.
Gemstone color can be broken down into three categories: hue, tone, and saturation. These are determined by impurities or trace elements that exist in their crystal structure.
There are some gems that can color change including color-changing sapphires, garnets, and alexandrite. These gems have subtle differences in color and can change color appearance with different light sources and during different times of the day.
Green tends to have the most choices as far as colors for gems go but a lot of this is mixed. And a lot of the finer green gems like emerald, jadeite, and demantoid garnet are rare.
The same as diamonds, the 4cs of gem clarification are also color, clarity, carat, and cut. Each one contributes to how a gem looks and how much it’s value will be.
Peridot is a gem variety of the mineral olivine and yellow-green to green-yellow. People often confuse peridot with other gems of the same color like topaz and emerald.
Yes, apatite is a naturally occurring gem although not as often used in jewelry. It is often kept by collectors because it has a wide variety of colors and forms. Apatite is mostly known to be green but can also range from pink, yellow, blue-violet, to even colorless.
Topaz has a wide color range. Mostly seen as brown it also includes a variety of different tones and saturations like green, yellow, orange, blue, pink, purple, and red. There are also colorless topaz gems but these are usually treated to make them blue.
Most dark-colored gems are also known as black-colored gems. These include black versions of Onyx, Opal, Pearl, and Tourmaline to name a few. There is also Obsidian and Blizzard Stone.
The most expensive of the black gems is the Black Opal. The most expensive one currently known is “The Royal One” which is valued at $3 million and weighs 306-carats.
There are several purple gems. Some of the most popular purple gems include Amythest, Purple Diamonds, Purple Sapphires, and more.
Citrine is a variety of quartz, one of the most common minerals. It’s a pale yellow color. Because of its availability, it is one of the most widely used gems. Other examples of quartz gems include Amythest and Gem Silica.
Have a question or need help with an order?
Please enter your name, email address & message and we will respond quickly via email.