Know What You’re Working With

It may seem obvious, but understanding the safety hazards of the gem that you’re handling is essential to finding the right tools to keep yourself safe. Learn the signs of acute and chronic exposure to these hazards. If you experience any symptoms, call for emergency services.

This gemstone toxicity table has information on several toxic and radioactive gems.

An Introduction to Toxicity

Toxicity is simply the ability of a material to damage an organ. Toxicity may arise from chemical reactions, physical reactions, or biological infection. Furthermore, each material can have one or more toxic attributes. Understanding the types of toxicity and toxicity pathways will help you stay safe.


For most people, chemical toxicity is the most familiar type of toxicity. This includes toxicity related to lead, mercury, and copper, for example. These materials are toxic because they react chemically with one or more organs. Exposure pathways include inhalation, ingestion, dermal contact, and mucous membrane contact.


Radioactivity is a type of chemical reaction which doesn’t require direct contact with the material. Exposure to excessive radiation can cause radiation sickness, and special precautions are required to avoid exposure while working with radioactive gems.