Colored Stones: Popular Green Gemstones
When it comes to colored gemstones, color is king. Today, many customers prioritize color and are less concerned with the actual gemstone variety as long as the stone is durable enough for their purpose.
However, finding gems by color can often be very difficult especially since gemstone dealers tend to list availability by gem type or gem variety rather than by gem color. When most people think about a green gemstone, emerald is usually the first gemstone to come to mind - but in fact, there are actually a wide variety of green gemstones available to choose from.
This is not a comprehensive list of all green gemstones known to man, but the guide below details some of the more significant and popular green gemstones available today:
- Color Change Diaspore
- Chrome Diopside
- Chrome Tourmaline
ActinoliteBack to Top
Actinolite is a relatively common amphibole silicate belonging to the pyroxene group of minerals. The pyroxene family is most famous for jadeite and nephrite, but actually includes an entire series of minerals ranging from iron-rich tremolite to magnesium-rich ferro-actinolite. Chatoyant actinolite is exceptionally rare and is sometimes referred to by the misnomer "cat's eye jade". Cat's eye actinolite is typically yellowish to green in color, although it does occur in rarer colors including white, colorless, yellow, gray, brown and black. Cat's eye actinolite is typically translucent to opaque and though it is mostly favored by collectors, it is sufficiently durable for most jewelry designs.
AgateBack to Top
Agate is one of the most popular and affordable gemstones available today. It is extremely versatile and available in a numerous variety of cuts and colors, including intense green - both uniform and patterned. Agate is one of the many quartz gemstone varieties, more specifically, it is a layered form of cryptocrystalline chalcedony quartz. Some of the most intensely colored green agate gemstones originate from South America, but buyers should beware of any stones that are too vivid in color, as this may be a good indication of dyeing. Unlike most gemstones, the dyeing of agate does not normally affect its value. Like all quartz, green agate is perfectly suitable for any type of jewelry design.
AlexandriteBack to Top
Alexandrite is considered to be one of the rarest and most valuable of all colored stones. It is the chromium-rich color change variety of chrysoberyl. It exhibits excellent hardness and durability, which makes it suitable for any type of jewelry. However, since large stones are incredibly rare, most alexandrite is limited to being used as side-stones or to accent other stones, rather than as center stones. The combination of color possibilities seen in alexandrite can vary depending on origin, but the most common color change combination is from emerald-green under natural daylight to raspberry-red when viewed under incandescent lighting. The most desirable and valuable alexandrite stones are those with pure hues and a strong color shift.
AmazoniteBack to Top
Amazonite is known as the 'Amazon stone' and was named after South America's Amazon River, which flows through the heart of Brazil. It is a green gemstone variety of microcline, one of the gemstone varieties of feldspar. Green amazonite is famed for its striking jade-like color and luster. Most amazonite gemstones are mottled, with uneven color distribution. Its green to light bluish-green color is owed to traces of iron. Fine top-quality amazonite can easily be mistaken for precious jade. As a variety of feldspar, amazonite is reasonably hard and is considered durable enough for most jewelry applications. Amazonite looks best when set into silver or white gold jewelry mountings. Amazonite gemstones with a high saturation of color, interesting patterns and evenly distributed color are considered the most desirable. Amazonite jewelry is extremely popular in South American countries. Like Larimar, it is somewhat of a local specialty sold in many tourist destinations.
ApatiteBack to Top
Apatite is gemstone beloved by collectors for its many different colors and forms. Neon blue-green 'Paraiba-like' apatite and leek-green apatite known as 'asparagus stone' are among the most highly sought after when it comes to green apatite colors. Cat's eye apatite is also an attractive variety, especially for cabochon gemstone jewelry. Apatite actually makes up an entire group of phosphate minerals and it is the most important source for industrial grade phosphates today. Even though apatite is the defining mineral for 5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, it remains virtually unknown to the general public and is seldom found in any mainstream jewelry designs. However, owing to recent finds in Myanmar (Burma), Brazil, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and Madagascar, apatite's popularity as a jewelry gemstone has seen a dramatic increase over recent years.
AventurineBack to Top
Aventurine quartz (not to be mistaken with the feldspar aventurine) is one of the few iridescent green gemstone forms of quartz. Aventurine color can range from light to dark-green and it is famed for its 'aventurescence', an optical phenomenon named after the gemstone and not the other way around. The intensity of aventurescence can range from weak to intense and is typically the result of muscovite mica inclusions. In addition to glittering effects, aventurine can often exhibit a silvery-green to green-blue sheen. Also like most quartz gemstones, green aventurine has excellent hardness, durability and affordability, even in very large sizes.
BloodstoneBack to Top
Bloodstone is perhaps one of the most historically interesting and legendary of quartz gemstones. Its unique green color is a result of dense chlorite or hornblende needle inclusions, often accompanied by red to yellowish blood-like inclusions that are owed to iron oxide. Bloodstone, sometimes referred to as heliotrope, is one of the more unusual gemstone varieties of chalcedony quartz. It is also considered to be very affordable, which combined with its reliable quartz hardness and durability, makes it an exceptional green gemstone choice for any type of jewelry. At one time, it was considered to be the modern birthstone for March until it was later replaced by aquamarine. Today, Madagascar is one of the leading sources for fine bloodstone, followed closely by India and California, USA.
Chrome DiopsideBack to Top
Chrome diopside is an emerald-green to forest-green chromium-rich gemstone variety of diopside. Chrome diopside belongs to the large group of pyroxene minerals and is relatively rare. In fact, until recently, it was only found in Eastern Siberia. Upon its introduction to the international gem market, chrome diopside became an instant success and was popularly used as an affordable substitute for more expensive green gemstones such as emerald, chrome tourmaline and tsavorite garnet. Diopside is also found in colors other than green, and there is also a rare form of star diopside available too. An extremely rare and valuable green diopside is known as 'tashmarine diopside' - it is a brilliant yellow-green diopside found only in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and in Western China.
Chrome TourmalineBack to Top
Chrome tourmaline, or chrome dravite, is a rare, gem-quality variety of chromium-bearing dravite found in only region of the world, Tanzania. In fact, chrome tourmaline and tsavorite are often sourced from the exact same mines. Gem collectors and jewelry-makers appreciate chrome tourmaline for its attractive emerald-green to forest-green color and as an affordable substitute for expensive emerald. Chrome tourmaline is normally found only in small sizes, with most faceted gemstones weighing less than 1 carat. Fine stones weighing more than a carat can attract high premiums.
Chrysoberyl & Cat's EyeBack to Top
The Chrysoberyl family is best known color-change alexandrite and of course, chrysoberyl cat's eye; but faceted chrysoberyl is also beautiful gem in its own right. Chrysoberyl and cat's eyes have excellent hardness, 8.5 on the Mohs scale. It takes a good polish and has a very nice luster. When the term cat's eye is used alone in the gem trade, it always refers to chrysoberyl. Chrysoberyl gemstones are highly regarded for their superb luster and cat's eyes are known for their remarkably sharp cat's eye chatoyancy effect.
ChrysopraseBack to Top
Chrysoprase, or chrysoprasus, is one of the rarest gemstone varieties of chalcedony quartz. Chrysoprase is available in many shades of green, ranging from light, mint-green to deep apple-green. Most green gemstones are colored by chromium or iron, but this rare form of cryptocrystalline quartz is colored by nickel impurities. Until the introduction of another rare green-blue chalcedony known as 'gem silica' or 'chrysocolla chalcedony', chrysoprase was considered the most valuable of all quartz gemstones. Some of the finest specimens are said to come from Central Queensland, Australia. Fine Australian chrysoprase can possess a translucency, luster and vivid green color reminiscent of fine quality jade.
EmeraldBack to Top
Emerald is perhaps the most famous of green gemstones. It is also certainly one of rarest and most valuable. Green emerald is the most precious member of the beryl group, and it is even classified as one of the 'precious four' gemstones - which also includes ruby, sapphire and diamond. In the world of colored stones, the green color of emerald is unparalleled. Its color is owed to traces of chromium and in some cases, vanadium. Like all beryl, emerald has excellent hardness and durability, although some heavily included emerald stones may be more fragile than others. The finest emerald is thought to come from Colombia, followed by Brazilian Emerald, Afghanistan Emerald and Zambian emerald. Nearly all emerald is color and clarity enhanced through a routing oiling process, usually done right at the mining source.
EnstatiteBack to Top
Enstatite is another green gemstone variety of the pyroxene group of minerals. Enstatite is exceptionally rare and is considered to be one of the lesser-known gemstones. Although it is sufficiently hard for most jewelry, it is primarily a collector's gem. Enstatite in its purest form is transparent and colorless. Greenish to brownish enstatite is colored by traces of iron. Enstatite exhibits strong pleochroism and as a result, it can appear brown or green depending on the viewing angle. Many enstatite gemstones have an attractively orangey hue. Iron oxide inclusions may result in a slightly metallic luster and a bronze-like color - these special stones are sometimes referred to as 'bronzite'. Cat's eye and star enstatite are also known to occur with green-gray color, though these are quite rare. A chromium-rich variety of enstatite from South Africa is highly sought after for its attractive emerald-green color.
GarnetBack to Top
The garnet group of gemstones is one of the most important of gem groups. There are numerous varieties of garnet, ranging in color from bright red to vivid green and everything in between. Some of the more popular green garnets include demantoid garnet and tsavorite garnet, two of the most valuable garnets available today. Demantoid is a variety of andradite garnet colored by chromium and ferric iron, while tsavorite garnet is a type of grossularite colored by vanadium or chromium. Other green garnets include color change garnet, 'common' grossularite garnet and the exotic hybrid Mali garnet found only in the West African country of Mali.
GaspeiteBack to Top
Gaspeite is a relatively recent discovery that was first described in 1966 as rare, pale to bright apple-green nickel carbonate belonging to the calcite group of minerals. It is typically opaque with a hardness of just 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale. Gaspeite often features interesting brownish veins and has a similarity in appearance to green turquoise or maw-sit-sit from Burma. Since gaspeite is relatively soft, it should only be worn with care in occasional-wear protective-style jewelry designs. Gaspeite looks especially stunning set in silver, especially alongside gems such as lapis lazuli or sugilite.
HiddeniteBack to Top
Hiddenite is the green transparent gemstone-quality variety of spodumene. Spodumene is also known for its popular lilac to pink colored gemstone type known as kunzite. Like most green gemstones, hiddenite is colored by chromium and can appear green-yellow, yellow-green or a striking bottle-green or emerald-green. Hiddenite is pleochroic, meaning that it can display different colors when viewed at different angles. In order for hiddenite to display its best colors, the table facets must be oriented perpendicular to the main axis of the stone in order for gem cutters to reveal the deepest colors at the top and bottom of the crystal. Like other forms of spodumene, hiddenite is relatively hard and durable enough for most jewelry.
IdocraseBack to Top
Idocrase is not only rare, but transparent facetable material is extremely rare. As a mineral, idocrase is typically referred to as vesuvianite, whilst the gemstone is traded under the name idocrase. Although it is mostly found in shades of green, it can also be found in rarer colors such as pale-blue or yellowish-brown. Most idocrase gemstones today are opaque and appear similar to jade. Opaque idocrase has a greasy luster, while fine, transparent idocrase has a vitreous luster. With a hardness that is slightly less than quartz, idocrase is suitable for most jewelry designs and its green color is quite distinctive.
JadeBack to Top
Although jade is mostly known for its imperial green variety, the term 'jade' is actually an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of gemstones. The only two pure forms of jade are nephrite and jadeite, with jadeite being the rarer and more valuable of the two. Recently, other varieties of gemstones with mixed composition have also been traded and marketed as 'jade', including omphacite, jade-albite and chloromelanite. Jade is famed for its green color and greasy luster. In many cultures, green jade is considered precious and sometimes it is even considered to be more valuable than gold. Although the most desirable color is green, jade gemstones can also be found in various shades of white, gray, lavender, orange and other colors. Burmese imperial jadeite is the most valuable and desirable jade, and it is also one of the rarest of all colored gemstones.
KornerupineBack to Top
Kornerupine is a rare green collector's gem named after its Danish discover, Andreas Nikolaus Kornerup. Kornerupine is mostly sought after for its typically yellowish-green to green-brown color, though it is also found in some other rare colors too. Kornerupine is known to exhibit a strong level of pleochroism, usually yellow and green, or red and brown colors that are shown in the same crystal depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Since the more recent discoveries of kornerupine deposits were found in Africa, its popularity and demand has increased dramatically. It is considered to be relatively hard and suitable for most types of jewelry. Cat's eye kornerupine is known to occur, though it is very rare. When cut en cabochon, green cat's eye kornerupine makes for exceptional cabochon rings.
MalachiteBack to Top
Malachite is opaque copper carbonate hydroxide. It is closely associated with blue azurite, blue-green turquoise and the copper-bearing multicolored chrysocolla. Malachite is known for its intense green color and beautiful banded patterns. Although it is not a particularly hard stone, it takes an excellent polish and is admired by gem and jewelry designers for its interesting patterns. Proper orientation and cutting is absolutely essential in order to bring out the best and most interesting patterns and symmetrical designs. The most important malachite deposits were originally found in Russia, but today, most malachite is sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire).
Maw-sit-sitBack to Top
Maw-sit-sit is certainly one of the more unusual and exotic gemstones of the world. It even has a curious name, after the small village and sole source in Northwestern Burma. Maw-sit-sit is an interesting green gemstone, technically defined as a rock because of its mixed composition. The primary constituents of maw-sit-sit include kosmochlor (a mineral related to jadeite) and varying amounts of jadeite and albite feldspar. It is often classified as variety of jade, but it is not a pure form of jade - such as jadeite or nephrite. Maw-sit-sit is sometimes traded as 'chloromelanite' or 'jade-albite', but maw-sit-sit is found only in Burma whereas chloromelanite and jade-albite can be found in other localities. With a hardness of 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, maw-sit-sit is sufficiently durable for most jewelry designs.
MoldaviteBack to Top
Moldavite is rare, naturally occurring glass that belongs to the tektite group of gemstones. The term 'tektite' refers to any natural glass formed through the impact of meteorites on the Earth's surface. They are only found in four locations around the world, known as 'strewnfields'. Moldavite is an unusual olive-green to bottle-green gemstone touted as "the only known extraterrestrial gemstone on earth". Moldavite has no crystal structure and is very similar to obsidian, another type of natural glass. By composition, moldavite is a combination of silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide. Transparent and faceted moldavite is extremely rare. Most moldavite gemstones are translucent to opaque with a dull to vitreous luster. The most desirable color for moldavite is a pure medium green with no brownish tones.
OpalBack to Top
Opal is one of the most popular jewelry gemstones available today, despite its lack of hardness and durability. Green opal is one of the most common colors, as well as shades of yellow and white. Green opals generally have excellent color play with flashes of yellow and blue, although some rarer stones can also exhibit flashes of red and violet. Today, many green opals are sourced from Africa and South America, though Australia is the world's leading supplier for precious and common opal (potch). Opal is famed for its 'opalescence' and its remarkable play of color. Most people confuse play of color with opalescence, but the optical effects are not the same. Opalescence is a form of adularescence, while play of color is a form of iridescence. Green is the most common color seen through opal color play.
PeridotBack to Top
Peridot is one of the few gemstones available in only one color - green. However, peridot's unique green color can range from vivid and intense shades of yellowish-green to dark brownish-green. Peridot belongs to the olivine series of minerals and is a magnesium-rich gemstone-quality variety of forsterite. Peridot is a rare example of an idiochromatic gemstone. Idiochromatic gemstones are unique in that their color comes from their basic chemical composition, rather than through traces of minor impurities such as iron or chromium. Interestingly, green peridot is one of the oldest known gemstones with records dating back as early as 1500 BC. Peridot's hardness is comparable to quartz and it is generally affordable. It is also often available in reasonably large sizes, making it a wonderful green gemstone choice for just about any type of jewelry design.
PrehniteBack to Top
Prehnite is an attractive gemstone that is composed of calcium aluminum silicate. It is prized as a gemstone for its distinctive soft apple-green color, and vitreous to pearly luster. It is reasonably hard at 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, and is affordably priced. Even large prehnite stones are surprisingly inexpensive when compared to other gemstone types. For those who are seeking an unusual green gemstone, prehnite is an ideal green jewelry stone, suitable for just about every kind of jewelry design. Some prehnite gems may even exhibit a cat's eye effect, but these are quite rare. Most prehnite is cut en cabochon, but faceted transparent prehnite gemstones can be found.
SapphireBack to Top
While blue is the most traditional sapphire color, this remarkable gemstone can be found in a wide variety of fancy colors including several shades of green. In the past, green sapphire was often misleading traded as 'Oriental peridot', but this term is no longer used today. Sapphire is a gemstone quality variety of corundum, which means that it has superior hardness and durability, surpassed only by that of diamond. Green sapphire may actually be slightly tougher and denser than other sapphire colors owing to its higher concentration of iron. Sapphire can range in various shades of green from light lime-green to dark forest-green. In recent times, green sapphire has become increasingly popular even though it remains quite rare. Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is thought to produce the finest green sapphire, but most green sapphire on the market today is from Thailand or Australia.
SeraphiniteBack to Top
Seraphinite is a chatoyant green gemstone variety of the mineral clinochlore, which is a member of the chlorite group. Its feathery chatoyancy is enhanced by silvery mica inclusions. Seraphinite's unusual name comes from the Greek word 'seraphim', a term that refers to angels, because of its feathery texture reminiscent of wings. Seraphinite's color can range from dark-green to gray and it is desired for its extremely attractive contrasting silvery fibers that shimmer under light. Seraphinite is a rather soft gemstone, but its use in jewelry is suitable for protected designs such as earrings, pins or brooches.
SerpentineBack to Top
Serpentine in gemstone-quality form is sometimes referred to as 'noble' or 'precious' serpentine. Its unusual name is thought to be derived from its serpent-like green colors, which can range from light yellowish-green to darker brownish-green. Serpentine often exhibits interesting and attractive areas of chatoyancy as well as marbled, spotted or veiny patterns. Serpentine gemstones can have extremely variable compositions, with most stones often including up to twenty different constituents. Owing to its varied composition, serpentine's hardness can also range significantly from just 2.5 to 5.5 on the Mohs scale. Some of the finer quality serpentine specimens can exhibit a translucency and silky luster similar to that of fine jade.
SpheneBack to Top
Sphene is one of the very few gemstones known for having a higher dispersion rating than fine diamond. A high dispersion rating results in remarkable fire, brilliance and scintillation. The attractive green color of sphene is often accompanied by golden tones. Sphene is available in reasonably large sizes, often weighing 5 carats or more. It is sometimes traded as 'titanite', a name derived from its titanium content. Sphene is also strongly pleochroic, which means that typically at least 3 colors can be seen in a single specimen depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Sphene is rather soft (5 to 5.5 on the Mohs scale), so its use in jewelry should be limited to pendants, earrings or brooches.
TourmalineBack to Top
Green tourmaline is one of the most popular and affordable green gemstones available today. It is reasonably priced and is often available in large sizes. It also has excellent hardness and durability, making it perfectly suitable for any type of jewelry design. Green tourmaline is sometimes referred to as 'verdite', a marketing name used only to refer to green tourmaline specimens. Other colors tend to trade under their own color-specific names such as red rubellite and blue Paraiba tourmaline. Green tourmaline may also be found with cat's eye chatoyancy. Tanzania is also known to produce a rare emerald-green tourmaline colored by chromium - these are traded as 'chrome dravite' or as 'chrome tourmaline'. Unlike other tourmaline colors, green tourmaline is typically clean and free of visible inclusions, making it an attractive option when choosing the perfect green gemstone.
VarisciteBack to Top
Variscite is a rare and lesser-known gemstone-quality phosphate. It is primarily a collector's gem and is often used for carvings and jewelry such as earrings. It is named after Variscia, where it was originally discovered and at one time, it was even traded as Utahlite as a result of deposits that were discovered in Utah, USA. Variscite is often confused with turquoise due to similar colors and black veining. Many variscite gems may be marketed as 'variquoise', an interesting name that combines 'turquoise' with 'variscite'. Variscite is slightly softer than turquoise and it is colored by chromium, whereas turquoise is one of the few gems that is colored by copper. The most desirable and valuable variscite stones are those with slight translucency and a uniform mint-green color.
Zultanite or Csarite (Color Change Diaspore)Back to Top
Zultanite is a rare color change diaspore gemstone that is commercially mined from only one location in the entire world, the Anatolian Mountains of Mugla, Turkey. The name 'zultanite' is actually a marketing name given by the company that owned the sole mining rights of the Turkish deposits. Diaspore has good hardness that is comparable to tanzanite, though it can be hard to find large clean gemstones. Most color change diaspore gemstones are less than a carat in weight and are often visibly included. The level of color shift in smaller stones is normally quite faint, but larger stones can have a very pronounced color change. Color change diaspore is normally kiwi-green under natural light, often exhibiting flashes of yellow, and when viewed under incandescent light, it changes to a champagne-like color. In subdued lighting, such as candlelight, color change diaspore will often have a slight pinkish color. It is also pleochroic, so a single stone can appear violet-blue, light-green and pink to dark-red depending on the viewing angle.
- First Published: July-02-2014
- Last Updated: July-06-2017
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