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Test your Gemstone IQ!

How well do you know your gemstones? 

Formed during the colossal contortions the Earth endures each time it undergoes a physical or chemical upheaval, gems and stones come in a mind-boggling array of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. Regardless of whether they’re classified as rocks, minerals, stones, gems, or some combination thereof, these gifts of nature are often the crowning touch for jewelry makers. How well do you know their names and characteristics?

Be forewarned: Contradictions in terminology and factual information run rampant in the rock and gem world. Language translations, linguistic divisions, mineral deposit locations, ancient mining jargon, and the gem and jewelry trade are just a few of the factors that contribute to conflicting stone names and data. Though we’ve researched the listings that follow, the information presented here may not match that of your favorite gem resource.

Lapis Lazuli

Other names: denim lapis (light blue)

DESCRIPTION: Shades of blue and violet (due to sulfur), often with flecks of gold-colored pyrite and veined or spotted with white dolomitic marble; a combination of lazurite, calcite, and pyrite

MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Afghanistan, Russia, Chile, Angola, Burma, Canada, Pakistan, Siberia, Myanmar, U.S. (California, Colorado)

MOHS: 5–6

FASCINATING FACTS: Name meaning “blue stone” or “heaven” in Arabic and Latin

16 TigersEye
Tiger's Eye

DESCRIPTION: Golden streaks on brown; fibrous inclusions cause chatoyancy on surface

MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS:  Africa, Australia, Burma, India, U.S. (California)

MOHS: 6.5–7

FASCINATING FACTS: Formed from hawk’s eye (when quartz replaces the minerals in crocidolite); red tiger’s eye is heat‑treated

34 Sodalite

DESCRIPTION: Blue, violet, and gray tones with white calcite veins

MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Brazil, Greenland, India, Canada, Africa, Russia, U.S. 

MOHS: 5.5–6

FASCINATING FACTS: Named for its sodium content

39 Malachite

DESCRIPTION: Light green, dark green, and black coloration with light green and white striations; banding of colors in concentric rings (called malachite peacock’s eye)

MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Urals (exhausted), Zaire, U.S. (Arizona)

MOHS: 3.5–4

FASCINATING FACTS: Women of ancient times used powdered malachite as eye shadow; contains copper (which is poisonous if absorbed, inhaled, or ingested in large quantities); sensitive to heat, acid, ammonia, and hot water; very soft, scratches easily (surface can be hardened with resin) 




5 ChalcedonyConchina
Chalcedony Conchina
DESCRIPTION: Chalcedony in the narrow sense; porous, waxy, smooth; lavender coloration; usually has subtle or no banding
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, U.S. (California)
MOHS: 6.5–7
FASCINATING FACT: Popular as a carving material for sculptural gemstone art; sometime called Desert Rose
1 GarnetCrystal
Garnet Crystal
DESCRIPTION: Shades of red, brown, green, yellow, and orange; this example is the most common color (dark reddish brown)
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Asia, Africa, India, Russia, Australia, Europe, U.S. (Idaho, Arizona)
MOHS: 6.5–7.5
FASCINATING FACT: Garnet, a Latin name, is derived from the word “pomegranate,” a fruit that has a red coloration similar to that of the most common garnet stone
38 AzuriteGeode
Azurite geode
Other names: chessylite
DESCRIPTION: Deep blue to black coloration; occurs often with malachite (azurite-malachite)
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: France (exhausted), Africa, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Russia, U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico)
MOHS: 3.5–4
FASCINATING FACT: Named for its azure blue color
4 OrangeSpessGarnet
Spessartite Garnet Drusy
DESCRIPTION: Orange coloration often with subtle brown hues
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Germany, Burma, Brazil, China, Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, U.S.
MOHS: 6.5–7.5
FASCINATING FACT: Name derived from this garnet species’ discovery in the Spessart Mountains, Germany
33 Serpentine1

Other names: antigorite, amesite, lizardite
DESCRIPTION: Green with tints of yellow, white, and brown occasionally; there are two types of serpentine—leafy (leafy antigorite) and fibrous (fibrous chrysotile)
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Afghanistan, China, New Zealand, U.S.
MOHS: 2.5–5.5
FASCINATING FACTS: Latin for “snake”; mostly made of fine chrysotile particles—one of two natural forms of asbestos (amphibole is the second)

17 Pietersite

DESCRIPTION: Macrocrystalline or cryptocrystalline; various colors
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Worldwide, depending on type of quartz
MOHS: 6.5–7
FASCINATING FACTS: Named after the Slavic word for “hard”

12 ImperialJasper

Other names: orbicular jasper
DESCRIPTION: Streaky pink, mauve, and/or green coloration
MOHS: 6.5–7
FASCINATING FACTS: Sometimes characterized by overlapping orbicular, or “egg,” patterns

6 BiggsAgate

DESCRIPTION: Rich color palette; repetitive banding; can be translucent or opaque
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Germany (exhausted), South America, Uruguay, India, Italy, Brazil, U.S.
MOHS: 6.5–7
FASCINATING FACTS: Name derived from the river Achates (currently Drillo) in Sicily

40 Rhodochrosite
Other names: manganese carbonate, raspberryspar, manganesespar
DESCRIPTION: Raspberry red and pink coloration; white and gray zigzag bands; usually opaque; translucent variety is rare
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Chile, Mexico, Peru, Africa, U.S.
FASCINATING FACT: The largest known faceted translucent rhodochrosite is almost 60 carats (Africa)
35 Sugilite
Other names: royal azel
DESCRIPTION: Violet coloration; can be translucent and opaque
MOHS: 6–6.5
FASCINATING FACT: Named after Ken-ichi Sugi, Japanese petrologist; wrongly called “sogdianite”
32 Rhodonite
Other names: manganese gravel
DESCRIPTION: Deep reddish pink coloration often with black dendrites (manganese oxide); sometimes white inclusions
MOST PROMINENT DEPOSITS: Australia, Finland, Japan, Canada, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, Africa, U.S. (New Jersey)
MOHS: 5.5–6.5
FASCINATING FACT: Greek for “rose”; one of the most difficult gems to facet because it splits easily
26 PinkPeruvianOpal
Pink Peruvian Opal
DESCRIPTION: Translucent, sometimes features a scenic pattern of black dendrites (tree- or fernlike inclusions)
MOHS: 5.5–6.5
FASCINATING FACT: High-quality opal is more valuable than diamond—up to $20,000 per carat by some estimates
FIND MORE: stone , stone setting

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