Gemstone Colors And Identification


“Swarovski Earrings Blue Zircon Silver with Prongs” by Maria Panayiotou is licensed under CC By-ND 2.0
Zircon has a refractive index (RI) range very distinct from those of other popular blue color gemstones. “Swarovski Earrings Blue Zircon Silver with Prongs” by Maria Panayiotou is licensed under CC By-ND 2.0

Question

I’m getting started in gemology but I think I have a bad problem. I’m red, green, and brown colorblind. I see and enjoy colors but I don’t know what colors I’m looking at. I love faceting stones and have recently completed a new shop building for this purpose. However, if I can’t accurately determine gemstone colors, what impact will it have on learning to make gem identifications?

Answer

There are only a few occasions when gemstone colors are determining factors for gemstone identification. As you learn the procedures, you’ll find that you can identify most species without the element of color. However, identifying varieties of a species is a bit different. For example, you could identify the species beryl but would need some help with gemstone colors to determine if a beryl is an emerald or an aquamarine.

I would encourage you to purchase a refractometer (if you haven’t already) and read our series of articles on using a refractometer. That’s a major step in gem identification. While you’ll still have a lot to learn before you can identify gems with authority, you can begin making separations right away. By that, I mean you’ll be able to tell if a stone is or isn’t a topaz, quartz, etc.

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

These earrings feature sky blue topaz briolettes and neon blue apatite rondelles. Though these gemstone colors may all be shades of blue, topaz and apatite have refractive index ranges that don’t overlap. A refractometer should be able to distinguish these species. “Starlite Jewelry Designs ~ Briolette Earrings ~ Jewelry Design” by Naomi King is licensed under CC By 2.0
These earrings feature sky blue topaz briolettes and neon blue apatite rondelles. “Starlite Jewelry Designs ~ Briolette Earrings ~ Jewelry Design” by Naomi King is licensed under CC By 2.0