The Beauty of Colored Gemstones: Beyond Diamonds

Mother Nature has gifted us with over 300 colored gemstones. It is amazing that a combination of heat, pressure, time, and specific minerals yield such bright, beautiful, and sparkling colors. Today we are highlighting the beauty of colored gemstones, their best cuts, and jewelry styles!

Colored gemstones are known as “varieties” in the gemological world. Their color is caused by a different mineral in their composition. One small change in their chemical composition or structure creates a new gemstone! Below is a list of some well-known and lesser-known colored gemstones categorized by hue! 

Pink to Red Colored Gemstones

If you have a love for the warm rich hues of pink and red gemstones, these are for you! There are many gemstones available in this color range but we are sharing the most popular ones. Any jewelry with these gemstones is a show-stopper! 


Ruby Gemstones

The iconic ruby gemstone loved by so many is the birthstone for July. The word “ruby” comes from the Latin word “ruber” meaning red. Because of the different amounts of these additions to the mineral corundum, rubies can have different hues. Their colors can range from blood-red, orange-red, purple-red, brown-red, and even pink-red.

All colors of metals complement ruby gemstones and the most popular cut is an emerald cut. Ruby gemstones are almost as hard as diamonds so they can be cut in any shape and will look fabulous! 


Garnet Gemstones

Garnet gemstones come in many different colors but are most often associated with red hues. The red hues of garnets come in every tone and hue and are often prized for their unique beauty. The name “garnet” comes from a Latin word, granatum, which means seed. Garnet gemstones resembled pomegranate seeds hence their name. We listed garnets under our red-pink gemstones but know that they also fall into the purple and green categories too! 

Naturally smaller in size, garnets are often cut into round brilliant shapes but can be cut into almost any shape. They are a relatively hard, durable stone with a Mohs rating of 6.5- 7. (Diamonds are the hardest with a rating of 10 for reference) They are the official birthstone of January. Warmer-colored garnets are complemented by both yellow and white metals. 


Opal Gemstones

Opal gemstones are a beautiful combination of colors! You are probably most familiar with the milky white stone that emits hues of various colors when hit with light. Why did we include it in the pink-to-red category? Because the most spectacular and precious opals are fire opals that gleam red, orange, and yellow on their more transparent background. 

Opal pairs well with yellow or white metals but is most popular with white gold. The white gold next to the iridescent stone creates dramatic sparkles and flair! Opals are the official birthstone for October birthdays and make wonderful gifts. They have a hardness of 5-6 on the Mohs scale which makes them decently durable but do require some special care to avoid scratching. The most popular cut for opals is called a cabochon. It means that the opal has been polished into a round or oval shape. This allows the most smooth surface area to highlight the iridescence. 


Purple Colored Gemstones

If purple is your favorite color these are the gemstones you will love! If you are wearing silver or white hair, purple gemstones in white metals look fabulous next to your hair. Adding earrings and necklaces with purple gemstones to your collection is a great choice!


Amethyst Gemstones

Amethyst gemstones come in a beautiful array of different hues of purple. From pale lavender to vibrant plum, the color of amethysts is second to none and makes them a unique option for jewelry. They may also display undertones in red or even blue. Amethyst gemstones are the official birthstone of those born in February. 

Amethysts have a hardness rating of 7 making them very durable and able to be fashioned into a variety of different cuts. The most popular cuts are the round brilliant that maximizes sparkle and the cushion cut which features a square shape with rounded edges. The cushion cut draws attention to the rich purple color of the gemstone. Amethysts can be paired with both white and yellow metals but look absolutely stunning against the warmth of yellow gold! 



Kunzite is a relatively modern gemstone  (early 1900s) and much is found in San Diego County, CA. It is prized for its color ranges from pink-violet to intense purple. It is more often made into larger gemstones because of the way the stone is composed. Light is best refracted when looking at the stone lengthwise. They usually have few inclusions which open the stone to many different cuts but the most popular are step cuts or cushion cuts to maximize sparkle and color. It is a 6.5 to 7 on the hardness scale because of its composition. Many consider Kunzite to be a second birthstone for February! 


Tanzanite Gemstones

Tanzanite gemstones are found only near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, and their color ranges from a deep royal blue to a beautiful deep purple. Tilting the stone will result in seeing 3 different colors because of the way the crystals are connected. Tanzanite is an additional birthstone for December and also a 24th wedding anniversary gift!

Tanzanite gemstones have a hardness rating of 6-7 making them less durable but perfect for special occasion wear. Like kunzite, cushion cuts are most popular to make the most of the sparkle and color of this stone! 


Blue to Green Colored Gemstones

If you are drawn to the calming cool blue and green tones of colored gemstones then these are the ones for you. Blue and green gemstones pair beautifully with both white and yellow metals- there is something about the yellow gold that really brings contrast when paired together though! 


Sapphire Gemstones

Sapphire gemstones come in every color of the rainbow (except red) but blue sapphires are by far the most popular! These luscious cool blue hues give a royal look and a calming sense to our minds! Blue sapphires are the official birthstone of September and are also gaining popularity in engagement rings!

Sapphires have a hardness rating of 9 and are excellent for everyday wear. The most popular cuts are oval, round, and cushion cuts. The cool blue is most often paired with white metals but if you are looking for a vintage or royal look, pair it with yellow gold! 


Tourmaline Gemstones

Tourmaline gemstones come in a variety of colors. Blue tourmaline is a coveted gemstone because of its intense blue-green hue. They are known as “Paraiba” tourmaline because they were first discovered in Paraiba, Brazil. These stones often have inclusions that create a line across the gemstone similar to a cat’s eye. Stones with these inclusions are very desirable! 

Tourmaline gemstones have a hardness rating of 7.5 but are not brittle so they are great for everyday wear. Again they are paired most often with cool metals like white gold or platinum but also look beautiful with yellow gold. All cuts are available for this stone but the most popular are cushion cuts, cabochons, and emerald cuts. Cut is important because the striations of the gem need to be aligned a certain way to best show off their beautiful blue colors! 


Aquamarine Gemstones

Aquamarine gemstones have a beautiful sea-water blue hue and are the official birthstone of March. They are named after the Latin word for sea water and were thought to protect sailors at sea. The darker the blue hue the more prized the gemstone! 

Aquamarine may appear colorless when paired with yellow golds so white gold or platinum are recommended metals. Their cuts should emphasize the refraction of light and open back settings let the most light in for optimal sparkle! They have a hardness setting of 7.5 to 8 so make excellent gemstones for everyday wear. 


Emerald Gemstones

Nothing beats the gorgeous green hue of a timeless emerald gemstone! Once prized by ancient emperors, emerald gemstones are still sought after today. It is the birthstone for May and the gemstone of spring, the green color symbolizes growth and new beginnings. 

With a hardness rating of 7.5 to 8, emeralds are great for everyday wear. They can be paired with both white and yellow metals but are absolutely stunning when paired with yellow gold. The warmth of the gold and the coolness of the green are in perfect harmony. The most popular cut for emerald gemstones is its namesake cut- the emerald cut. 


Peridot Gemstones

Peridot gemstones offer a beautiful bright green hue that is more yellow-green than emeralds. It is the birthstone for August babies. Most gemstones are found in the earth’s crust but peridot is found in the earth’s mantle, deep in volcanic lava, and even on meteorites! 

Peridot gemstones have a high refractive index which means they bend light for a lot of sparkle! It has a hardness rating of 6.5 to 7 which means it can be worn daily. The best cuts for peridot gemstones include emerald, oval, pear, round, and cushion cuts! Peridot gemstones can be paired with yellow gold but are more popular in lighter-colored metals such as white gold or platinum.


Yellow and Orange Colored Gemstones

These gorgeous warm yellow and orange colored gemstones are sure to bring all the happy feelings when you see them sparkling on your finger or around your neck! 


Topaz Gemstones

Topaz gemstones come in every color and could be included in all of these categories but the “Imperial Topaz” falls in the yellow hues and is the most popular so we included it here. Peachy sunset colors to deep yellow oranges are all hues you will find in yellow topaz gemstones. Yellow topaz is also the birthstone for November birthdays along with citrine. 

Topaz gemstones have a hardness rating of 7 which makes them less durable than diamonds but ok for everyday wear. Cuts must be carefully made because Topaz gemstones are more prone to chipping. Popular cuts include round, cushion, triangle, and emerald cuts. Yellow and rose gold are the most popular metals paired with yellow topaz. 


Amber Gemstones

Perhaps you are most familiar with Amber from the Jurassic Park movie series which features a mosquito encased in Amber. Amber gemstones are made from the hardened resin of ancient pine trees. Amber has been made into jewelry for over 10,000 years. It ranges in color from yellow, orange, and brown but can also have tints of green, blue, or violet. It is most prized for its inclusions which often include insects, leaves, petals, and pollen. When amber gemstones are warmed, they give off a sweet pleasant scent! 

Amber gemstones can be cut and faceted but are more often tumbled to give a smooth lustrous shine. Amber is a soft gemstone with a Mohs rating of 2-2.5 so you must take care when wearing amber jewelry. It can be paired with both yellow and white metal or with leather for a more natural look. 


Citrine Gemstones

Citrine gemstones are the birthstone for November (along with Topaz). These gemstones are found in beautiful yellow hues and honey-orange hues due to the presence of iron in their composition. They have a Mohs hardness rating of 7 so should be worn with care. 

Citrine gemstones paired with yellow gold give a warm bold look but the contrast between citrine and white metals really allows the yellow color of the stone to shine! Favorite cuts for citrine gemstones include oval and pear cuts along with cushion cuts. 


Isbell Jewelers is Your Source for Colored Gemstone Jewelry

We hope you are inspired by our deep dive into the beauty of colored gemstones! Our jewelers at Isbell are ready to help you find the perfect colored gemstone for your jewelry collection. Stop by our shop to browse our showcase or let us help you bring your vision to life with our custom designed jewelry! Contact us to learn more! 


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