Table of contents:
- Assessing Color and Quality in Green Gemstones
- Green Gems Ideal for Everyday Use
- Verdelite and Chrome Tourmaline
- Green Garnets: Tsavorite and Demantoid
- Green Diamond
- Maw Sit Sit
- Green Chrysoberyl
- Green Sapphire
- Idocrase (Vesuvianite)
- Green Gemstones for Occasional Wear
- Chrome Diopside
- Sunstone and Oregon Sunstone
- Green Zircon
- Green Apatite
- Green Collector’s Gemstones
- Chrome Sphene
- Seraphinite (Clinochlore)
Assessing Color and Quality in Green Gemstones
Gemologists assess color by considering hue, tone, and saturation. In a green gemstone, the primary hue is green, but gems often have secondary hues, too. Green gems may have blue or yellow secondary hues present. In general, a pure green hue is the most desirable (and more expensive). For secondary hues, most people prefer a hint of blue to a yellowish green stone. Yellow-green stones can still be quite attractive but won’t reach top dollar.
Green colors are most saturated or intense at medium-dark tones. Darker gems can quickly become too dark to appreciate their color. Lighter tones, on the other hand, can be lively and bright. Overall, gems with the brightest, most saturated colors are the most desirable and expensive.
Clarity can be an important factor in gemstone quality. Keep in mind that gemstone clarity doesn’t simply refer to transparency but rather to the natural imperfections in every stone. In general, these are less noticeable in darker gemstones than in lighter ones. Nevertheless, avoid gems with large inclusions or fractures, since these could be more prone to breaking. In addition, large or dark imperfections in the center of the gem are easily noticed, so avoid gems with these kinds of imperfections.
Knowing whether the colored gemstone you’re buying is worth the price can be difficult. For any expensive purchase, we recommend using a trusted custom jeweler like CustomMade and educating yourself with our gemstone buying guides.
Green Gems Ideal for Everyday Use
If you’re looking for a great green gem for an everyday ring, the following stones are your best options. Each of these rates at least a 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, making them resistant to scratches. They’re also less likely to break when accidentally dropped or knocked against a table. These tough green gemstones will hold up to everyday wear, making them ideal for engagement rings. With regular cleaning, they’ll keep looking as good as the day you bought them.
By far, jade (both jadeite and nephrite varieties) is the most durable gemstone around. It’s so tough, in fact, that you can hit it with a hammer without breaking it! While this isn’t recommended while you’re wearing it, this iconic green gemstone is actually renowned for its musical properties, ringing like a bell when struck. Jade’s beautiful translucence has mesmerized people for centuries, becoming one of the world’s most popular gems for carving. Avoid lower-quality treated jades, though. Inexpensive jade is heavily treated and can have low durability. Consult our jade buying guide for more information.
Verdelite and Chrome Tourmaline
If you prefer a faceted stone, consider a green tourmaline, also known as verdelite. These gems can be larger and exhibit better clarity than emeralds and also come with lower prices and greater durability. A top choice for an emerald alternative, this modern October birthstone often receives an emerald cut.
Of course, if you want a rarer stone with top color, check out chrome tourmaline. These gems are a bit more expensive than verdelites, but their saturated green colors are worth the extra cost. Their color comes from chromium, the same rare element that colors emeralds.
Green Garnets: Tsavorite and Demantoid
If you prefer a green gem with a lot of sparkle, the garnet family of gems might be your best option. Although this January birthstone is best known for its brownish red hues, garnets come in every color, and green is a top choice. Depending on their chemistry, green garnets go by different names. Green grossular garnets can be deeply colored tsavorites or lighter mint garnets. A favorite of many jewelers, tsavorites have great color and can provide a lot of sparkle when properly cut.
If you’re looking for something a little rarer, though, consider a demantoid garnet. These green gemstones got their name, which means “diamond-like,” for the intense flashes of color that finished gems can show. Because of its chemistry, this garnet is rarer and more expensive than other varieties. However, if you like the look of a red flash from deep within a green gem, you’ll fall in love with a demantoid. See our demantoid buying guide and our garnet engagement ring guide for more information.
Bloodstone is… green? Was it named for horseshoe crab blood? No! It’s actually a variety of chalcedony with a green body color and flecks of red that resemble blood. This gemstone is the traditional birthstone for March, and its association with blood has made it a symbol of bravery for warriors going into battle.
If your budget is big enough, why not opt for a green diamond? One of the rarest natural colors of diamond, green hues are especially desirable. These colors arise from nitrogen, hydrogen, and nickel in the diamond crystal structure or from defects in the crystal structure caused by irradiation as the diamond forms underground.
If a naturally green diamond is beyond your budget, consider a treated diamond. Irradiation treatments can create green diamonds with great color and much lower prices. And don’t worry, they’re perfectly safe to wear!
Maw Sit Sit
If jade is out of your budget, consider maw sit sit instead. This green stone often has bright hues due to trace amounts of chromium as well as black inclusions, so it makes an excellent lookalike for jade. To complicate matters, some maw sit sit actually contains jadeite. A combination of jadeite and clinochlore contributes to the bright green hue. However, this material is available at a fraction of the price, making it a very attractive alternative.
The mineral chrysoberyl is best known for being the classic yellow cat’s eye gem and for its color-changing variety, alexandrite. But did you know it comes in green, too? Beautiful mint green chrysoberyls occur in several locales, but the market for these gems is small. Nonetheless, a well-cut green chrysoberyl will have remarkable brilliance and make a great ring stone.
An unusual and eye-catching gemstone, chrysoprase is a variety of chalcedony with inclusions of nickel-bearing minerals that impart bright green hues. Cabbed or carved, this translucent gem is another great jade lookalike. If you’re looking for a stone that will last, make sure it originated in Australia. Chrysoprase from other locales can fade in the sunlight. For more information, consult our chrysoprase buying guide.
This variety of quartz has light green hues and has recently become a popular, inexpensive jewelry stone. While green quartz rarely occurs in nature, gem dealers can heat treat light-colored amethyst to produce this gem. (Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz).
Although best known for blue, sapphire also comes in green. While green stones rarely reach saturated colors, green sapphire makes a great choice for an everyday ring. Among the most durable gemstones, sapphires will easily hold up to wear in an engagement ring. Olive green, mint green, and yellow greens are more common than a pure, grass green. Green-blue “mermaid” colors are popular, too. The best part, though? Green colors are less popular than blue, which means that they’re also less expensive! See our sapphire buying guide and engagement ring guide for more information
In crystalline form, idocrase can make a beautiful faceted gem. In massive form, it makes a great jade lookalike. Idocrase crystals occur in abundance in metamorphosed limestones near Mt. Vesuvius, so some call this stone “Vesuvianite.” Though an uncommon jewelry stone, idocrase doesn’t have any major durability concerns and should hold up to daily wear.
This variety of quartz comes with natural sparkles. Flat, thin crystal inclusions in the stone sparkle in the light, causing aventurescence. These minerals also make the quartz appear blueish green in color. With a hardness of 7, this stone is certainly durable enough for everyday wear. (Be aware that the artisanal glass known as “goldstone” is also called “aventurine,” but this material isn’t the same as quartz aventurine).
Green Gemstones for Occasional Wear
Sadly, not all green gemstones are tough. Some are soft or prone to chipping or breaking. These gems are best suited for earrings, pendants, and brooches. If you’re creating a ring with one of the following green gemstones, use a protective setting to minimize chipping and scratches.
Of all the Earth’s green gemstones, emerald is perhaps the most popular. It has inspired many legends and famous jewelry pieces. With a hardness of 7.5 to 8, the May birthstone most likely won’t suffer scratches. However, it might come as a surprise to some that emerald doesn’t make a great ring stone like ruby or sapphire. Emeralds always have imperfections in their crystal structure, which make these gems likely to break if they’re accidentally knocked against a table. Emeralds also often receive oil treatments to improve their appearance.
Ever witnessed gems falling from the sky? With peridot, it can happen. This modern August birthstone forms in volcanoes. During eruptions, some volcanoes eject peridots into the sky, and they fall to the ground nearby. Some peridots even come from outer space, recovered from Pallasite meteorites.
Although these yellow-green gems are popular and affordable jewelry stones, they’re not the most durable. Peridots can break if they’re hit the wrong way and are sensitive to acids and rapid changes in temperature. Consult our peridot buying guide for more information.
One of the most popular green gemstones for costume jewelry is chrome diopside. It’s so popular, in fact, that you might not guess it’s one of the newest gems on the market. Much of this material comes from a deposit in eastern Siberia discovered in 1988. More recently, Pakistan has produced some chrome diopside.
In spite of this gem’s relative rarity, its prices remain low. Its deep green colors make it a natural choice for inexpensive green jewelry, but keep in mind that it’s a relatively soft stone and prone to scratches. They can also split apart if struck, so be careful with any diopside in a ring.
If you like everything extraterrestrial or you’re just into olive greens, consider moldavite jewelry. This green gemstone is actually a type of natural glass that forms during some meteorite impacts. When the meteorite hits, it liquefies some of the rock nearby and shoots it up into the atmosphere. (Just like a stone hitting water, only instead of water imagine liquid rock!) As the liquid falls back to the ground, it cools, forming glass.
Like all glass, moldavites can scratch easily, so take care to properly store your moldavite jewelry.
Did you know turquoise can also come in green? Although most turquoise has a signature blue-green hue, some locales produce turquoise with much more green. Turquoise from Carico Lake, Nevada often shows a bright, apple green with intricate black spiderweb patterns. Other sources can show a blueish green hue. See our turquoise buying guide for more information.
Sunstone and Oregon Sunstone
Feldspars are among the most common minerals in the Earth’s crust. These gem varieties, though, have become a favorite among collectors. That’s because sunstone contains small inclusions of iron minerals, and Oregon sunstone contains inclusions of copper that create a glittering effect. Although the red hues are most popular, green to blue-green gems are also excellent options. See our Oregon sunstone buying guide for more information.
Although best known for its violet-blue variety, tanzanite, zoisite also comes in other colors. Because of this, green zoisite is sometimes called “green tanzanite,” though this is a misnomer. Green zoisite is rarely transparent, making faceted gemstones a collector’s item. However, “ruby-in-zoisite,” a stone composed of opaque green zoisite, black hornblende, and opaque red ruby can yield beautiful decorative pieces.
This copper mineral has banded circles of green that give it a natural beauty. Malachite has also been associated symbolically with money. Sometimes growing to large sizes, malachite makes an interesting material for decorative objects in addition to jewelry. However, it’s also soft, brittle, and sensitive to heat and acids.
Though often confused with cubic zirconia, the well-known diamond simulant, zircon is a fantastic natural gem and one of the modern December birthstones. While white zircons can also mimic diamonds and blue zircons are inexpensive favorites, green zircons are actually a rare collector’s gem. These stones rarely exhibit a bright green. Olive colors are more common.
Although zircon is hard enough to resist scratches, its facet edges will chip easily. Occasional wear in earrings or necklaces will help keep the damage to a minimum. Consult our zircon buying guide for more information.
The official state rock of California and a favorite jade lookalike, serpentine is a lovely stone for carvings or cabochons. Although soft, this metamorphic rock appears frequently in inexpensive jewelry. With olive green hues, serpentine makes an interesting decorative stone as well.
Rarely transparent, apple green prehnite can make interesting cabochons. Some lapidaries have faceted translucent stones, which have a soft, velvety look. At 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, this gemstone is fairly resistant to scratches, but its cleavage can make cutting a challenge.
While blue-green is the most common color, green apatites, or “asparagus stones,” occur as well. However, be careful with apatite jewelry. Reserve this soft and brittle stone for pendants and earrings.
A popular material for cabochons and carvings, variscite exhibits lovely light green hues. Although too soft for regular ring wear, this stone can make attractive beads. People have prized these beads for millennia. In fact, archaeologists in France have uncovered Neolithic variscite beads over 6,000 years old.
This rare gemstone is most prized for its green colors, which can resemble emerald. Kornerupine is rare as a faceted gemstone and generally small, with prices growing rapidly for larger sizes. Although its hardness ranges from 6 to 7, kornerupine has perfect cleavage in two directions, so it could simply split apart if knocked the wrong way.
Green Collector’s Gemstones
Some gems are best suited for display only, safe from the bumps and scratches that can come from jewelry use. Although the following green gemstones may not be ideal for jewelry, they can bring color and interest to a viewing collection.
With emerald color and more fire or dispersion than diamond, chrome sphene is a rare and fascinating gem. Although soft and brittle, this stone sometimes makes its way into jewelry. This sphene variety is the rarest and most valuable, and stones with good clarity above one carat are collector’s items.
If you like living dangerously, consider adding an ekanite to your collection. Although its muted olive green color doesn’t scream “Danger,” this mineral contains uranium and thorium, making it quite radioactive. While small sizes aren’t a huge health risk, even a 5-ct gem would more than quadruple your average annual dose of radiation. If you’re considering cutting ekanite or adding one to your collection, check out our article on toxic and radioactive gemstone safety.
One of the most difficult gems to cut, hiddenite can simply fall apart when lapidaries attempt it. Hiddenite is the green variety of the mineral spodumene, which you might know better for its pink variety, kunzite. Since spodumene has two cleavage planes, it can break with little force.
While you might be better off leaving hiddenite in a display case, wearing one carefully around your neck as a pendant shouldn’t pose too much of a risk. However, save this gem for evening wear only, because its colors will fade with prolonged exposure to sunlight and even just bright lights.
Light green gaspeite is a nickel-bearing mineral popular with collectors. However, you should always handle it with care. Nickel can cause skin irritation and may be a carcinogen. Because this mineral is soluble in some acids, wearing it against the skin and accidental ingestion can result in a toxic reaction. Wearing gloves while handling gaspeite and using a dust mask to avoid inhaling particles while cutting these stones will help you avoid any adverse effects.
Cabochons of seraphinite, a trade name for swirling green clinochlore, have made their way into jewelry. However, this stone might do better if left at home for display only. It’s so soft that even a fingernail can scratch it. That means a polished cabochon will dull with time and wear. Still, seraphinite can be a visually appealing stone in a low price range.