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Colours of Gemstones

World of Colour

"The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you."

Gabrielle Bonheur 'Coco' Chanel (1883-1971)

Peridot

Peridot is a 'self coloured' gemstone

Yellow sapphire

Yellow Sapphire is an 'other coloured' gemstone

Colour is the single most important factor when assessing coloured gemstones. But like everything to do with beauty, it is highly subjective and at the end of the day, in the eye of the beholder. This is not to say that there are no colour paradigms in gemstones, there certainly are, but these should never be at the expense of personal preferences.

It will come as no surprise that the more attractive a gem's colour, the higher the value. The most valuable colours depend on two factors, fashion and rarity. Fashion is easy to understand, it's all about colour popularity; if no one finds a gem's colour attractive, then its rarity really doesn't matter. Inversely, if a gem's colour is popular and it's rare, such as Paraíba Tourmaline or Padparadscha Sapphire, then you've got a gemstone superstar. In general, intense colours are more favoured than those that are dark or light, but there are exceptions, for example, that Victorian favourite, Rose de France Amethyst.

But how does colour actually work? Simplistically, gemstone colour occurs in two ways:

1.Self Coloured (Idiochromatic): A colouring element is incorporated into the mineral's crystal structure, always giving it a characteristic colour. For example, Peridot will always be shades of green from its high iron content, which comprises 12-15 percent of its total mass.

2.Other Coloured (Allochromatic): Colour is caused by small amounts of colouring elements that are not part of the mineral's normal crystal structure and/or crystal imperfections (colour centres). In their pure state, 'other coloured' minerals are colourless, for example Sapphire. Without colouring elements (and/or colour centres), all Sapphires would be colourless.

Ruby king of gems

Ruby, the 'king of gems'

Most things get their colour due to how they react with light. Some gems, such as Opal, get their colours physically as light is refracted in flashes of colours that change with the angle of observation ('play of colour'). But for most gems, and even most objects, our perception of colour involves an amazing transformation.

As revealed by rainbows, white light is comprised of the individual colours of the spectrum: blue, green, orange, red, violet and yellow. When white light passes through a gem, some of these spectral colours are absorbed. The spectral colours of white light least absorbed combine to produce the colour of the gem. This absorption of certain colours is called the 'selective absorption of light' and is always the same for an individual gemstone. If all spectral colours pass through a gem it appears colourless, but if these are all absorbed it will appear black.

A red gemstone appears red because all the other colours of the spectrum except red are absorbed by the gem. It is changes in a light source's component colours that cause gems to look different in dissimilar lighting conditions. Even a small variation in the light source can produce a big difference in how we see a gem's colour. In extreme examples, this results in the colour change effect. While some gemstones look better in natural daylight and others in artificial (incandescent) light, a gemstone's colours should ideally remain beautiful in any light source. Scrutinising a gemstone under a variety of different light sources before purchasing is definitely a good idea. As always, be guided by common sense and your preferences, paying heed to the inherent characteristics of each type.

  1. Hue is the position of a colour on a colour wheel. It is described as the shade, tint or sensation of colour.
  2. Tone is the degree of lightness or darkness of a colour.
  3. Saturation is described as the intensity (strength or purity) of a colour. Saturation and transparency typically influence the beauty of a gemstone more than tone.

Even though there are several industry colour grading systems (e.g. GemDialogue, GemEWizard and GIASquare), there is no universal standard for communicating colour in coloured gemstones. This is mainly due to coloured gems being highly subjective, resulting in sellers creating their own grading, such as AAA.Colour can be a great way to pick the right gem for you, but please note that colour alone is not a reliable way to identify gemstones. Colour helps, but other visual clues such as inclusion patterns, signs of wear (hardness), pleochroism, fire and sparkle are also critical. Below, some popular gems are grouped by their colours - get back in black (black gems), discover heavenly blues (blue-violet gems), become a white knight (colourless/white gems), make them green with envy (green gems), multiply your choices (multicoloured gems), warm your heart (red-pink gems) or simply brighten your day (yellow-chocolate gems). One question I have been asked is: "What colour gem suits every person?" While blue is one of the most popular choices, its richer tones can be too dark for some people. The colour of the sky and tropical seas, medium or aqua blues suit almost any skin tone. Examples include Aquamarine, Ceylon Sapphire, Paraíba Tourmaline and Turquoise. Don't believe me? Just look at the popularity of blue jeans.

Black Gems

  • Black Gems | Black Diamond

    Black Diamond

  • Black Gems | Black Spinel

    Black Spinel

  • Black Gems | Black Star Sapphire

    Black Star Sapphire

  • Black Gems | Hematite

    Hematite

  • Black Gems | Onyx

    Onyx

Discover our selection of black gemstone jewellery in our webshop >

 

Blue to Violet Gems

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Amethyst

    Amethyst

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Apatite

    Apatite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Aquamarine

    Aquamarine

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blue Diamond

    Blue Diamond

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blue Fire Opal

    Blue Fire Opal

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blue Green Tourmaline

    Blue Green Tourmaline

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blue Moon Quartz

    Blue Moon Quartz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blue Sapphire

    Blue Sapphire

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blue Spinel

    Blue Spinel

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Blueberry Quartz

    Blueberry Quartz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Caribbean Blue Apatite

    Caribbean Blue Apatite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Cat's Eye Aquamarine

    Cat's Eye Aquamarine

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Chalcedony

    Chalcedony

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Dumortierite

    Dumortierite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Grape Topaz

    Grape Topaz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Hemimorphite

    Hemimorphite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Indicolite

    Indicolite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Iolite

    Iolite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Kanchanaburi Sapphire

    Kanchanaburi Sapphire

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Kyanite

    Kyanite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Lapis Lazuli

    Lapis Lazuli

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Lily Quartz

    Lily Quartz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | London Blue Topaz

    London Blue Topaz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Midnight Blue Sapphire

    Midnight Blue Sapphire

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Neon Blue Apatite

    Neon Blue Apatite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Ocean Topaz

    Ocean Topaz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Paraíba Tourmaline

    Paraíba Tourmaline

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Purple Sapphire

    Purple Sapphire

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Purple Spinel

    Purple Spinel

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Ratanakiri Zircon

    Ratanakiri Zircon

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Sky Blue Topaz

    Sky Blue Topaz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Star Sapphire

    Star Sapphire

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Swiss Blue Topaz

    Swiss Blue Topaz

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Tanzanite

    Tanzanite

  • Blue to Violet Gems | Turquoise

    Turquoise

  • Blue to Violet Gems | axinite

    axinite

Discover our selection of blue to violet gemstone jewellery in our webshop >

 

Colourless/White Gems

  • Colourless/White Gems | Danburite

    Danburite

  • Colourless/White Gems | Diamond

    Diamond

  • Colourless/White Gems | Goshenite

    Goshenite

  • Colourless/White Gems | Petalite

    Petalite

  • Colourless/White Gems | White Quartz

    White Quartz

  • Colourless/White Gems | White Sapphire

    White Sapphire

  • Colourless/White Gems | White Topaz

    White Topaz

  • Colourless/White Gems | White Zircon

    White Zircon

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Green Gems

  • Green Gems | Amazonite

    Amazonite

  • Green Gems | Amblygonite

    Amblygonite

  • Green Gems | Bloodstone

    Bloodstone

  • Green Gems | Chrome Tourmaline

    Chrome Tourmaline

  • Green Gems | Chrysoprase

    Chrysoprase

  • Green Gems | Demantoid

    Demantoid

  • Green Gems | Emerald

    Emerald

  • Green Gems | Fluorite

    Fluorite

  • Green Gems | Green Amethyst

    Green Amethyst

  • Green Gems | Green Diamond

    Green Diamond

  • Green Gems | Green Kunzite

    Green Kunzite

  • Green Gems | Green Sapphire

    Green Sapphire

  • Green Gems | Green Tourmaline

    Green Tourmaline

  • Green Gems | Jade

    Jade

  • Green Gems | Kiwi Topaz

    Kiwi Topaz

  • Green Gems | Malachite

    Malachite

  • Green Gems | Merelani Mint Garnet

    Merelani Mint Garnet

  • Green Gems | Moldavite

    Moldavite

  • Green Gems | Paraíba Tourmaline

    Paraíba Tourmaline

  • Green Gems | Peridot

    Peridot

  • Green Gems | Russian Diopside

    Russian Diopside

  • Green Gems | Trapiche Emerald

    Trapiche Emerald

  • Green Gems | Tsavorite

    Tsavorite

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Multicoloured Gems

  • Multicoloured Gems | Alexandrite

    Alexandrite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Ametrine

    Ametrine

  • Multicoloured Gems | Aventurine

    Aventurine

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Amethyst

    Bi Colour Amethyst

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Citrine

    Bi Colour Citrine

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Fluorite

    Bi Colour Fluorite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Kunzite

    Bi Colour Kunzite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Quartz

    Bi Colour Quartz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Tanzanite

    Bi Colour Tanzanite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Bi Colour Tourmaline

    Bi Colour Tourmaline

  • Multicoloured Gems | Black Opal

    Black Opal

  • Multicoloured Gems | Boulder Opal

    Boulder Opal

  • Multicoloured Gems | Cat's Eye Alexandrite

    Cat's Eye Alexandrite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Cat's Eye Zultanite

    Cat's Eye Zultanite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Colour Change Garnet

    Colour Change Garnet

  • Multicoloured Gems | Colour Change Sapphire

    Colour Change Sapphire

  • Multicoloured Gems | Freshwater pearl

    Freshwater pearl

  • Multicoloured Gems | Graffiti Quartz

    Graffiti Quartz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Jasper

    Jasper

  • Multicoloured Gems | Jelly Opal

    Jelly Opal

  • Multicoloured Gems | Labradorite

    Labradorite

  • Multicoloured Gems | Matrix Opal

    Matrix Opal

  • Multicoloured Gems | Medusa Quartz

    Medusa Quartz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Moonlight Topaz

    Moonlight Topaz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Moonstone

    Moonstone

  • Multicoloured Gems | Mother of Pearl

    Mother of Pearl

  • Multicoloured Gems | Mystic Topaz

    Mystic Topaz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Neptune Topaz

    Neptune Topaz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Rainbow Moonstone

    Rainbow Moonstone

  • Multicoloured Gems | Sardonyx

    Sardonyx

  • Multicoloured Gems | Semi Black Opal

    Semi Black Opal

  • Multicoloured Gems | South Sea Pearl

    South Sea Pearl

  • Multicoloured Gems | Strawberry Quartz

    Strawberry Quartz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Sunset Mystic Topaz

    Sunset Mystic Topaz

  • Multicoloured Gems | Tahitian Pearl

    Tahitian Pearl

  • Multicoloured Gems | Tourmalinated Quartz

    Tourmalinated Quartz

  • Multicoloured Gems | White Opal

    White Opal

  • Multicoloured Gems | Zultanite

    Zultanite

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Red to Pink Gems

  • Red to Pink Gems | Cherry Topaz

    Cherry Topaz

  • Red to Pink Gems | Flamingo Topaz

    Flamingo Topaz

  • Red to Pink Gems | Kunzite

    Kunzite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Morganite

    Morganite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Mozambique Garnet

    Mozambique Garnet

  • Red to Pink Gems | Noble Red Spinel

    Noble Red Spinel

  • Red to Pink Gems | Pink Danburite

    Pink Danburite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Pink Diamond

    Pink Diamond

  • Red to Pink Gems | Pink Sapphire

    Pink Sapphire

  • Red to Pink Gems | Pink Spinel

    Pink Spinel

  • Red to Pink Gems | Pink Tourmaline

    Pink Tourmaline

  • Red to Pink Gems | Pyrope

    Pyrope

  • Red to Pink Gems | Red Diamond

    Red Diamond

  • Red to Pink Gems | Rhodochrosite

    Rhodochrosite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Rhodolite

    Rhodolite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Rhodonite

    Rhodonite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Rose Quartz

    Rose Quartz

  • Red to Pink Gems | Rose de France Amethyst

    Rose de France Amethyst

  • Red to Pink Gems | Rubellite

    Rubellite

  • Red to Pink Gems | Ruby

    Ruby

  • Red to Pink Gems | Star Ruby

    Star Ruby

  • Red to Pink Gems | Vine Topaz

    Vine Topaz

Discover our selection of red to pink gemstone jewellery in our webshop >

 

Yellow to Chocolate Gems

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Agate

    Agate

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Amber

    Amber

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Andalusite

    Andalusite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Andratit

    Andratit

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Canari Topaz

    Canari Topaz

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Carnelian

    Carnelian

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Cat's Eye Actinolite

    Cat's Eye Actinolite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl

    Cat's Eye Chrysoberyl

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Cat's Eye Danburite

    Cat's Eye Danburite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Cat's Eye Scapolite

    Cat's Eye Scapolite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Champagne Diamond

    Champagne Diamond

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Chondrodite

    Chondrodite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Chrysoberyl

    Chrysoberyl

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Cinnamon Zircon

    Cinnamon Zircon

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Citrine

    Citrine

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Clinohumite

    Clinohumite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Cuprian Tourmaline

    Cuprian Tourmaline

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Fire Opal

    Fire Opal

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Heliodor

    Heliodor

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Hessonite Garnet

    Hessonite Garnet

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Imperial Topaz

    Imperial Topaz

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Lemon Citrine

    Lemon Citrine

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Mandarin Garnet

    Mandarin Garnet

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Marcasite

    Marcasite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Orange Sapphire

    Orange Sapphire

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Ouro Verde Quartz

    Ouro Verde Quartz

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Padparadscha Colour Sapphire

    Padparadscha Colour Sapphire

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Padparadscha Sapphire

    Padparadscha Sapphire

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Rutile Quartz

    Rutile Quartz

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Saffron Zircon

    Saffron Zircon

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Smoky Quartz

    Smoky Quartz

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Spessartite

    Spessartite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Sphalerite

    Sphalerite

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Sphene

    Sphene

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Sunset Sapphire

    Sunset Sapphire

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Sunstone

    Sunstone

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Tigers Eye

    Tigers Eye

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Yellow Beryl

    Yellow Beryl

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Yellow Diamond

    Yellow Diamond

  • Yellow to Chocolate Gems | Yellow Sapphire

    Yellow Sapphire

Discover our selection of yellow to chocolate coloured gemstone jewellery in our webshop >

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