Gemstone List A to C

Gemstone List
This list of gemstones contains many, but not all of the gemstones that are used for beads. Information includes the meaning of the gemstone’s name, chemical composition, Mohs hardness number, specific gravity, color, mining locations, historical information, well known varieties. Not all trade named varieties are included.

In my jewelry descriptions, I have used the names given by my bead suppliers. Sometimes they are trade names.

The list is divided alphabetically: Use these links, or scroll down.

A – C D – G H – K L – O P – R S – Z
Gemstones A-C
Name may be for the Greek word meaning happy or from the Greek name of a stone found in the Achates River.

SiO2     hardness 7      specific gravity 2.61

Variety of colors and patterns determined by impurities
Some varieties have distinct banding
Porous and often stained or dyed

Found in volcanic lava
Mined in Oregon, Germany, Mexico, Madagascar, Italy, Egypt, India, China, Scotland
Was mined in Idar-Oberstein, Germany for 700 years until the 20th century. Today the mine is divided into a research area, a collector’s area, and a visitor area with a museum.

Ancient lore: Guards from danger, makes the wearer agreeable, persuasive, and prudent.
Averts storms and lightning.
Cure for insomnia and bad dreams.
In the 1800s a variety of black or brown with a white ring was popular. The ring was a symbol of an eye. It was worn to neutralize the power of the Evil Eye and encourage the watchfulness of a guardian spirit.

In 1709 Vienna, a print was published of a drawing showing an airship invention. At the top of the ship was a large amount of coral agate. It was supposed to acquire magnetic power from the sun’s rays and raise the ship.

Varieties of Agate:
Natural Agate – black and browns with white banding
Botswana – from Africa, dark and light banding, usually combinations of black, gray, white, brown, occasionally pink.
Crazy Lace or Mexican Lace – multi color, usually grays, browns, rust, yellow
Blue Lace from S. Africa – light blue with bands of colorless
Fire – brown caused by iron oxide, with iridescent multicolor patterns
Moss – translucent colorless, white, or gray with inclusions that resemble moss
Tree – white base with green leaf like inclusions
Wood – brown with veining that resembles wood
Montana – creamy yellow to clear with brownish red to black inclusions
White – little or no banding
Blue – dyed various shades of blue
Green – dyed various shades of green
Red – some banding, heated and dyed
Fossil agate – from petrified wood, various shades of brown, some with different color inclusions


Named after the Amazon River.

KAlSi3O8      hardness 6      specific gravity 2.6

Color: blue green
Opaque to translucent

Mined in India, Colorado, Canada, Russia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Namibia


Alternate names include: Succinite – from Baltic coast, Burmite – from Myanmar, Simetite – from Sicily

mostly C10H16O      hardness 2 – 2 1/2      specific gravity 1.05 – 1.08

Organic, fossilized resin of trees, may contain trapped insects or bubbles.
Often reconstituted to make it harder and more practical for jewelry.

Color is usually light to dark golden yellow or golden orange, occasionally green, red, violet, or black.
Transparent or translucent

Found in Baltic coast regions for several thousand years. Also comes from Dominican Republic, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Romania, Canada, Czech republic, U.S.A.

Ancient Lore
Various beliefs about the formation of amber include juice of the setting sun, hardened in the sea and washed up on shore; tears of a god; solidified urine of the lynx.
It was carved into animal forms to enhance its powers. It symbolized divinity. If a man kept a piece of amber on him he would never be sexually impotent.

Construction of an amber room was begun in 1711 in Prussia, moved, and finished in 1763 in the Catherine Palace in Russia. It was considered the 8th wonder of the world. During world War II it disappeared. Restoration was finished in 2003.

Varieties of Amber
Ambroid formed by heating and pressing scraps of amber.

Care of pure amber requires special treatment because it is so soft. It is sensitive to chemicals, abrasives, alcohol, perfume. It is flammable. Clean it with a soft cloth and room temperature water.



SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.65

Color – purple, lilac, mauve
Transparent to translucent.

Mined in Brazil, Russia (reddish), Canada (violet), Sri Lanka, India, Uruguay, Madagascar, U.S.A., Germany, Australia, Namibia, Zambia.

Ancient Lore
The name amethyst may have come from an ancient story. The god Bacchus was going to have a pure maiden, named Amethyst, devoured by lions. She was saved from this horrible death by the goddess Diana, who turned her into a white stone. Bacchus angrily poured his wine over the stone. It turned from white to a beautiful violet color.

Amethyst was believed to have many powers:
Controlled evil thoughts, quickened intelligence, gave shrewdness in business matters.
Caused a sobering effect on those overpowered by love passion.
In battle, it preserved soldiers from harm and gave victory over enemies.
Assisted hunters in capturing wild animals.
Protected from contagious disease.
Guarded against drunkenness and promoted a sober, serious mind.

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Name is a combination of amethyst and citrine.
Crystals that are part amethyst and part citrine produce a combined color of violet and yellow.
Name from the Greek apate meaning deceit. Refers to its similarity to the crystals of other valuable minerals.

Ca(F,Cl)Ca4(PO4)3      hardness 5      specific gravity 3.20

Color – usually blue green, also colorless, yellow, violet
Transparent to opaque

Mined in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Russia, Canada, E. Africa, Sweden, Spain, Mexico,

Asperagus stone – yellowish green from Spain


Name means sea water

BeAl2(SiO3)6      hardness 7 1/2      specific gravity 2.69

Color: sky blue from traces of iron is considered best, also colorless. Usually heat treated to enhance color.
Transparent to translucent.

Mined in Brazil, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, dark blue in Madagascar, Mt. Antero in Colorado (the highest gemstone locality in North America)

Ancient Lore: Amulets were made of it and engraved with the god Poseidon to protect sailors.
The beryl group of gemstones helped against foes in battle and made the wearer unconquerable and amiable.
It improved intellect, cured laziness, and reawakened the love of married people.


Named for Aragon, Spain

CaCO3      hardness 3 1/2      specific gravity 2.94
chemically identical to calcite

Color: pure is colorless or white, impurities cause yellow, blue, pink, or green
Transparent to translucent.

Mined in Czech Republic, Turkey, Spain, France, Mexico, Morocco, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Japan, England, Colorado

SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.65

Color: many colors determined by inclusions of small crystals
green from green fuchsite mica, brown from pyrite, greenish brown from goethite, reddish brown from hematite, bluish white, bluish green, orange from other inclusions

Mined in Brazil, India, Russia, Japan, Tanzania, Vermont


Name comes from the same Persian word as Lapis, lazhuward, meaning blue

Cu3(OH)2(CO3)2      hardness 3 1/2      specific gravity 3.77

Color – azure blue from copper, usually inter grown with green malachite
Transparent to translucent

Found in copper mining areas, Australia, Chile, Russia, Africa, China, Mexico, Australia, Morocco, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico

Chessylite is the name given to the variety from France

In the 15th to the 17th century, it was used as a paint pigment.

Name comes from the red spots in the green color.
HELIOTROPE name from the Greek helio meaning sun and trepein meaning turning

SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.61

Color: green with red spots from iron oxides identical to red jasper

Mined in India, Brazil, China, Australia, USA

Ancient lore includes many different powers.
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the red spots were the blood of Jesus Christ.
It could turn the sun blood red and cause thunder, lightning, rain, and wind storms.
It was thought to bring respect and guard against deception, have a calming influence and remove anger.
It was used to tell the future.
Its healing powers included preserving health and stopping hemorrhages.

(Mg,Fe)2(Si2O6)      hardness 5-6      specific gravity 3.25-3.35

Color: dark greenish brown with bronze like luster

Mined in Austria, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Russia, Greenland

Name is from Latin word chaix, meaning burned lime

CaCO3      hardness 3      specific gravity 2.71
Color: pure is colorless, pale colored, or white, impurities cause all colors
Transparent to translucent

Mined in USA, Germany, England, Italy, almost world wide
Found in limestone, marble, stalactite, and stalagmite.

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SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.61

Color: reddish orange shades from iron oxide, may have banding
Long sun exposure can change the brown to red.
Stained dark using chalcedony from Brazil and Uruguay

Mined in Brazil, Scotland, USA

Ancient Lore:
Brings good luck.
Protects from evil or envious people.
Protects against injury from falling houses or walls.
Calms the temper.
Gives courage in battle.
Helps timid speakers to be eloquent.

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Name may be from Khalkedon, an ancient port in Asia Minor (now Turkey)

SiO2      hardness 6 1/2 -7      specific gravity 2.61

Color: bluish, white, gray, usually does not have banding

Mined in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, California

Ancient Lore: protects against demons, melancholy, and black magic.


Named for the Chara River in Siberia or the Russian word sharo, meaning beautiful

K(CaNa)2Si4O10(OH,F)H20      hardness 5-6      specific gravity 2.54-2.7

Color: lilac to violet, inclusions make white or black spots
Translucent to opaque

Found in 1976 during work for the Trans Siberian Railroad. Recognized in 1978 as an independent mineral.

Mined in Siberia.

Named for the light line that shows across it.

SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.65-2.7

Semi translucent

Cat’s Eye – grayish yellow, inclusions of crocidolite (blue asbestos) cause the white line.
Mined in Sri Lanka, India, Brazil

Tiger’s Eye – black, inclusions of iron oxide give yellow and golden brown stripes
Mined in South Africa, Australia


Name is from the Greek words chrysos for gold and kolla for glue

(Cu,Al)2H2Si2O5(OH)4.n(H2O)      hardness 2-4      specific gravity 2.20

Color: bright green or bluish
Translucent to almost opaque

Can be inter grown with malachite or turquoise

Mined in Chile, Russia, Zaire, China, and other copper mining areas

Name is from the Greek words chrysos and prase meaning golden leek

SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.61

Color: apple green from nickel, can fade in sunlight

Mined in Australia, Brazil, Russia, Austria, California

Ancient Lore: strengthens eye sight and relieves internal pain.
16th century – protects against thirst for gold
Has been used since prehistoric times.


Name is from the old French word citrin meaning yellow
Sometimes called Brazilian Topaz

SiO2      hardness 7      specific gravity 2.65

Color: pale to dark yellow from iron.
Most being sold today is either amethyst or smoky quartz that has been heat treated to turn it yellow.

Mined in Brazil, Spain, Madagascar, Russia, Scotland, India, France, North Carolina


CORAL Organic

CaCo3      hardness 3      specific gravity 2.68

Color: red, pink, white, blue, black, may have a pattern like a wood grain
Most sold today is dyed.

Comes from coral reefs that are made from skeletal remains of marine animals.
Found in the warm waters along the coast of Japan, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Malaysian waters.

Ancient Lore: Could still a tempest, cure madness, give wisdom, stop the flow of blood from a wound, predict illness, protect children.
Would help the wearer cross rivers safely.
Could gain or lose its vigor and became pale if the wearer was threatened with severe illness or poison.
Lost its power if broken.

Greek legend was that it came from drops of blood shed when Perseus cut off the head of Medusa.

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