• Sign In
    Sign Up
  • English speaking customer support only


  • Change Language
  • USD

Africa's Big 5 Gemstones

Gemstones from Africa
Gemstones from Africa

You have probably heard of Africa’s big five game animals, the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo. Thankfully, they are photographed not shot these days.

But what about Africa’s other Big Five? Gemstones. I have picked the perfect gemstones that capture the essence of Africa, plus five alternatives because I really could not stop at 5!

1. Sapphire

The king of the gemstone jungle. Gorgeous examples of African sapphires can be found in all colors especially from Tanzania and Madagascar.

Sapphire Gemstones
Sapphire Gemstones

Offbeat Alternative - Cat's Eye Apatite

Amazing brown, yellow and amber cabochons that seem to capture the eye of a big cat.

Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstones
Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstones

2. Garnet

The range of Garnets out of Africa is astonishing from the sunset orange Spessartite to the pinks and reds of Pyrope and Rhodolite not to mention the green Tsavorite and Demantoid.

Garnet Gemstones
Garnet Gemstones

Crazy Alternative - Color-Change Garnets

Move from light yellow to deep orange or pink to red in this amazing gemstone.

Color-Change Garnets
Color-Change Garnets

3. Spinel

An unsung hero of the gemstone world, the underappreciated Spinel is a wonderful gem. The beautiful reds rival rubies and the cobalt blues give sapphires a run for their money, but the intense vibrant pink Spinel from Mahenge in Tanzania is the real winner.

Spinel Gemstones
Spinel Gemstones

Surprise Alternative - Unheated Zircon

These untreated zircons encapsulate the perfect African sunset with rich orange, russet and red hues.

Untreated Zircon
Unheated Zircon

4. Tanzanite

Perhaps THE African gemstone is Tanzanite. It is named after one of Africa’s best sources of gemstones, Tanzania, in the middle of the continent. Found by Maasai herdsmen in the foothills of the iconic Mt Kilimanjaro – it does not get any more African than this gorgeous purple blue gemstone.

Tanzanite Gemstones
Tanzanite Gemstones

Striking Alternative - Tourmalines

Tourmalines come in almost every color of the rainbow and they can all be found in Africa including the stunning and incredibly rare Paraiba neon blue and green gemstones from Mozambique and Nigeria.

Tourmalines Gemstones
Tourmalines Gemstones

5. Ruby

Burma or Myanmar may have a reputation for the finest rubies but there is no doubt Africa competes very well. It will not be long before the stunning red rubies of Madagascar and Mozambique will be getting the sort of prices usually reserved for Burmese Rubies.

Ruby Gemstones
Ruby Gemstones

Exotic Alternative - Black Opals from Ethiopia

Australia is the most famous source of Opals but Ethiopia produces some fantastic black opals with an amazing play-of-color for a fraction of the price.

Black Opal Gemstones
Black Opal Gemstones

Africa's Big 5 Gems plus Alternatives

Gemstone Colors


All Colors

Cat’s Eye Apatite

Yellow / Gold / Green


All Colors

Color-Change Garnet

Yellow / Gold / Pink


All Colors


Golden Pink


Purple / Blue


All Colors



Black Opal

Rainbow play-of-color

  • First Published: August-21-2020
  • Last Updated: September-18-2020
*You're signing up to receive GemSelect promotional email.

Switch to Mobile Version

Privacy Notice © 2005-2023 all rights reserved.

Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.


More Shapes
Popular Gemstones
  • Sapphire
  • Emerald
  • Ruby
  • Aquamarine
  • Zircon
  • Opal
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Garnet
  • Amethyst
  • Citrine
  • Tanzanite
All Gemstones (142)
  • Actinolite Cat's Eye
  • Agate
  • Agate Geode
  • Alexandrite
  • Almandine Garnet
  • Amazonite
  • Amethyst
  • Amethyst Geode Slice
  • Ametrine
  • Ammolite
  • Andalusite
  • Andesine Labradorite
  • Apatite
  • Aquamarine
  • Aventurine
  • Azurite
  • Black Opal
  • Bloodstone
  • Boulder Opal
  • Carnelian
  • Cat's Eye Apatite
  • Cat's Eye Aquamarine
  • Cat's Eye Gemstones
  • Cat's Eye Moonstone
  • Cat's Eye Opal
  • Cat's Eye Scapolite
  • Chalcedony
  • Charoite
  • Chocolate Opal
  • Chrome Diopside
  • Chrome Tourmaline
  • Chrysoberyl
  • Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye
  • Chrysocolla
  • Chrysoprase
  • Citrine
  • Color Change Gemstones
  • Color-Change Diaspore
  • Color-Change Fluorite
  • Color-Change Garnet
  • Coral
  • Demantoid Garnet
  • Dendritic Agate
  • Diamond
  • Druzy Amethyst
  • Druzy Azurite
  • Druzy Variscite
  • Emerald
  • Enstatite
  • Fire Agate
  • Fire Opal
  • Fluorite
  • Fossil Coral
  • Garnet
  • Golden Beryl
  • Grandidierite
  • Grossularite Garnet
  • Hawk's Eye
  • Hematite
  • Hemimorphite
  • Hemimorphite Druzy
  • Hessonite Garnet
  • Howlite
  • Idocrase
  • Imperial Topaz
  • Iolite
  • Jade Gemstones
  • Jadeite
  • Jasper
  • Kornerupine
  • Kunzite
  • Kyanite
  • Labradorite
  • Lapis Lazuli
  • Larimar
  • Malachite
  • Malaya Garnet
  • Mali Garnet
  • Maw-Sit-Sit
  • Moonstone
  • Morganite
  • Mother Of Pearl
  • Mystic Topaz
  • Nuummite
  • Obsidian
  • Onyx
  • Opal
  • Opal Doublet
  • Opal In Matrix
  • Pearl
  • Peridot
  • Pietersite
  • Prehnite
  • Pyrite
  • Pyrope Garnet
  • Quartz
  • Quartz Cat's Eye
  • Quartz With Hedenbergite
  • Quartz With Marcasite
  • Rainbow Moonstone
  • Rainbow Pyrite
  • Rhodochrosite
  • Rhodolite Garnet
  • Rose Quartz
  • Rubellite Tourmaline
  • Ruby
  • Ruby In Fuchsite
  • Ruby-Zoisite
  • Rutile Quartz
  • Sapphire
  • Scapolite
  • Scolecite
  • Seraphinite
  • Serpentine
  • Sillimanite
  • Sillimanite Cat's Eye
  • Smithsonite
  • Smoky Quartz
  • Snowflake Obsidian
  • Sodalite
  • Spectrolite
  • Spessartite Garnet
  • Sphene
  • Spinel
  • Star Diopside
  • Star Garnet
  • Star Gemstones
  • Star Moonstone
  • Star Rose Quartz
  • Star Ruby
  • Star Sapphire
  • Strawberry Quartz
  • Sunstone
  • Tanzanite
  • Tiger's Eye
  • Tiger's Eye Matrix
  • Topaz
  • Tourmaline
  • Tsavorite Garnet
  • Turquoise
  • Variscite
  • Zircon
Main Categories
  • New Arrivals
  • Gemstone Lots
  • Calibrated Gemstones
  • Gemstones By Piece
  • Top Grade Gems
  • Matching Pairs
  • Cabochon Gemstones
  • Drilled Gems, Briolettes and Beads
  • Birthstones
  • Gemstone Carvings
  • Fancy Gemstones
  • Star Gemstones
  • Unheated Sapphire
English speaking customer support only

Toll Free - USA & Canada only:


Save Money
No shipping Fees for Additional Items!
$8.90 Worldwide Shipping

Update Translation
Current Value
New Value
GemSelect Gemstones
X Close Window
Colored Gemstones
X Close Window
Colored Gemstones
X Close Window
Colored Gemstones
Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

Size Comparison Chart