Since Man's beginnings, we have been fascinated by the beauty of gemstones. By definition, a gemstone is a mineral or petrified material, that when cut and polished, can be used in jewelry. The word is derived from the Latin "gemma", meaning "gem" and from Sanskrit "styAyate", meaning "it hardens".

Each gemstone has a specific scientific description and explanation. Additionally, these natural beauties of the earth have been the subject of many legends passed down through the ages. Some believe gemstones have specific meanings and powers. Truth or fiction, understanding the history and lore of gemstones is extremely interesting.

At the bottom of this page, we've included a scientific hardness rating system called the "Moh's Scale of Hardness". This scale tells the hardness of individual stones.

The following is by no means a complete listing of all gemstones, but it is enough to help you choose components for your custom jewelry.

Agate is actually a variety of quartz. It comes in many different forms and colors. The main conditions necessary for agate formation are the presence of silica (glass sand) from volcanic ash, rainfall or ground water sources, manganese, iron and other mineral oxides that form the stripes and colorful formations agates are so famous for. Wonderful agates are found in North American locations, including Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, to name a few.
Legend: Agates have been admired for thousands of years. This beautiful stone has been used for jewelry, decorative ornaments, and even furniture. It was believed to have unique properties that protected the wearer from danger and promoted strength and healing.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7
Care: Agate can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance.

Light yellow to reddish brown in color, amber is hardened fossilized sap of pine trees formed as many as 50 million years ago. The resin is often found with organic objects such as insects, lichen or moss suspended in its form. Amber is found in countries along the Baltic Sea, Venezuela, Russia, Romania, Burma and the Dominican Republic.
Legend: Often called the "Stone of the Sun", amber's magnetic properties are believed to be beneficial against fatigue and depression.
Moh's scale of hardness: 2-2.5
Care: Do not clean this stone with abrasive gem cleaner. Use only a soft, dry polishing cloth.

Amethyst is the most valuable gemstone in the quartz group. When faceted, amethyst creates a brilliant violet shine. This beautiful gem derives it's name from the Greek word "Amethystos", meaning "not intoxicated" - perhaps meaning pure or not influenced by alteration or additives.
Legend: Amethyst's vivid purple tones traditionally symbolize royalty, beauty, spirituality, calmness, stability, wisdom and strength.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7
Care: This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner or mild soap and water to maintain its brilliance.

Aquamarine gets it's name from two Latin words meaning "water" and "sea". It can be found in pale blue, light blue, blue-green, and virtually colorless varieties. When faceted, Aquamarine shows a clear, bright effect. And, when held under water, it seems to disappear. Brazil produces some of the finest aquamarines.
Legend: In ancient Greek mythology, Aquamarine was considered a gemstone of great vision. Its crystals were often used as eyes in sculpted statues symbolizing power and wisdom. According to legend, anyone setting eyes upon these statues became a person of great wisdom, harnessing the ability to see into the future. On occasion, one of these statues was strategically placed near the coastline in order to calm the wrath of the god Poseidon and ensure the safe return of ships at sea.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7.5-8
Care: This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner or mild soap and water to maintain its brilliance.

Light yellow to golden brown in color, the Citrine also belongs to the quartz family. The French word "citron", meaning "lemon", describes this gemstone's beautiful color. Most citrine is clear and bright, but there are instances of variations. The warm, amber hue of Citrine is reminiscent of the sun.
Legend: Citrine was once used to protect against the plague, evil thoughts, snakebites, and was also believed to aid digestion.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7
Care: Citrine can be cleaned with gem cleaner or mild soap and water to maintain its brilliance.

Jewelry quality Coral, like pearls, must be harvested from depths of 10 -1020 feet in the sea. Coral is in fact the skeletal remains of underwater sea flora which formed into tree-like shapes. Coral can be carved or tumbled, then made into beautiful pieces of jewelry. It can be black, red, pink or white in color, with red being the most rare and valuable.
Legend: Coral is listed as one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures. It has long been considered a talisman against bleeding, evil spirits and hurricanes.
Moh's scale of hardness: 3-4
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use only a soft, dry polishing cloth.

One of the rarest types of gems, Emeralds range in color from light green to hunter green. Larger Emeralds are generally deeper in color. Emeralds come alive when faceted. Most high quality emeralds come from Columbia, but they can also be found in India, South Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, and Zimbabwe.
Legend: The Emerald is believed to symbolize prosperity and the reproductive forces of nature. In Roman times, the Emerald was dedicated to Venus, the Goddess of Beauty.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7.5-8
Care: This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance. It shoudl not be cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners because of it's porosity.

Boasting an amazing bouquet of colors, ranging from greens to violets to pinks, Fluorite is rivaled only by Tourmaline in color range. It's most common color is a rich purple, similar to Amethyst. Softer than most gemstones, Fluorite is a natural calcium fluoride based gem and is not frequently used in jewelry. Fluorite is often fluorescent and some varieties will even glow in another color! A very luminescent stone, Fluorite is found principally in England, Spain, China, Brazil, Morocco, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Colorado.
Legend: The word "fluorescent" was derived from "Fluorite" based on the fact that specimens of Fluorite were some of the first examples of fluorescent materials ever studied. Fluorite also has a high percentage of fluorine and is therefore believed to aid in strengthening bones.
Moh's scale of hardness 4
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use only a soft, dry polishing cloth.

Its name is derived from the Latin word "granatum" meaning "pomegranate". Garnets range in color, from deep red, to rose and lavender. Their use traces as far back as 3100 B.C. when Egyptian artisans crafted Garnet beads or inlaid the gem into jewelry. Garnets are relatively common and form in rocks under high temperatures and pressures. They are even used by geologists as a gauge of how much temperature and pressure a given rock formation has endured.
Legend: According to Christian and Jewish legend, God's wrath clouded the earth with thunderous storms and endless rain during the Great Flood. A radiant red Garnet was said to have guided the way for Noah, leading the ark to salvation. The Crusaders set Garnets into their armor believing the protective power of the stones would lead them to safety. Conversely, some Asian cultures added Garnets to bullets believing their destructive power would amplify inflicted wounds.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7-7.5
Care: This gemstone can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance.

Once used by the Chinese as a form of currency, Jade is usually green, but can also be black, brown, yellow, violet, white or a reddish yellow. Jade is composed of microscopic interlocking crystals that produce a very tough material. Imperial Jade is colored emerald green by chromium. Iron produces other hues of green and brown. Manganese imparts violet colors. An extremely tough stone, Jade has a strength greater than steel and was used by many early civilizations to make axes, knives and weapons. Later jade became a symbolic stone used in ornaments and gem carving.
Legend: Thought to bring good luck since the times of ancient China and Egypt, Jade has been made into countless forms of jewelry as well as great works of art. Because of its durability Jade can be worn everyday and is said to protect it's wearer from injury.
Moh's scale of hardness: 6.5 - 7
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use a polishing cloth with mild soap and water.

Jasper is especially beautiful and can be found in the Western United States, particularly in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon. It often displays no pattern, but is usually heavy with rich shades of brown, red, green and yellow. Both dense and hard, Jasper takes a high polish and can be used for stone sculptures.
Legend: In the forth century, Jasper was known as the great "rain bringer".
Moh's scale of hardness: 7
Care: The polish of jasper (which is generally petroleum based) is delicate and can be washed away by water. So, clean gently only with a soft dry cloth.

Lapis Lazui
Called "Lapis" for short, it is mostly composed of Lazurite, but commonly contains Pyrite and Calcite. The name means "blue rock". The sulfur inherent in Lazurite gives Lapis it's rich blue color. Violet and greenish colors are also common in this interesting stone. It's veins and small crystals of Pyrite appear to react with the colors around it giving the stone a unique personality. First mined in Afghanistan 6000 years ago, Lapis was taken to Europe and made into jewelry. It was also ground up and used to make paint. It is still found in the Afghan mountains, as well as in Chili and in lesser quantities elsewhere.
Legend: Many believe the Biblical sapphire was in fact Lapis Lazuli. It is one of the oldest known spiritual stones used frequently by royalty and priests in ancient Egypt. The Romans also believed Lapis to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
Moh's scale of hardness: 5 - 6
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use only a clean dry polishing cloth.

Malachite is often found where there are copper deposits in the southwest United States, Australia, Chile, Central Africa and France. It commonly features bands of black throughout its beautiful green background. Malachite derives its name from the Greek word "Malake" meaning "marrow", in reference to its low hardness. It is also used in gem carving.
Legend: According to ancient lore, Malachite brings fidelity in love and friendship and is a protective stone for the aviation field.
Moh's scale of hardness: 3.5 - 4
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use only a clean, dry polishing cloth.

Named for its resemblance to the color of the moon, Moonstone is a beautiful, almost iridescent milky white. It is the most valuable variety of Feldspar.
Legend: Moostone was popular with the Romans, who thought it was formed out of moonlight. In India, Moonstone was considered a sacred stone and a symbol of the "Third Eye". Moonstone was said to balance yin/yang, protect against epilepsy, sun stroke and help cure headaches and nose bleeds.
Moh's scale of hardness: 6 - 6.5
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use a clean, dry polishing cloth.

Opal is considered a mineraloid because its structure is not truly crystalline, as are many stones. Although there is no crystal structure (meaning a regular arrangement of atoms), opal does possess a structure nonetheless. Random chains of silicon and oxygen are packed into extraordinarily tiny spheres. These spheres, in most Opals, are irregular in size and inconsistent in concentration. Yet in precious Opal, there are many organized pockets of the spheres of approximately equal size and with a regular concentration, or structure. Thus better Opals have the effect of diffracting light at various wavelengths, creating fabulous colors. Each pocket produces a different color with a different intensity depending upon the angle from which it is viewed. This explains the beautiful color flashes Opals are so famous for. Australia is the source of most precious Opal. It can also be found in the western United States, Mexico (famous for the "Fire Opal"), and other locations around the world.
Legend: Through the ages, Opal has been regarded as the luckiest and most magical of all gems because it displays so many beautiful colors.
Moh's scale of hardness: 5.5 - 6.5
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use only a clean, dry polishing cloth. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner or chemicals. Take care to keep your Opal away from intense heat and out of prolonged strong sunlight as these can dry out the water in your gem causing hazing or the color to change.

A timeless classic, Pearls are created by mollusks and consist mainly of calcium carbonate. They vary in size from "Seed Pearls" to the size of a pigeon's egg. Pearls are highly regarded because they are the only gem that forms within a living creature. Man developed a way to make Pearls, called "Cultured Pearls". They are formed by placing a small bead inside an oyster. The oyster finds the bead's invasion irritating and covers it with "nacre" (the lustrous coating that makes pearls glow and shine). Pearls are found in many colors, including pink, silver, cream, golden blue, black and the traditional white.
Legend: Arabian myth states that pearls were formed when dewdrops filled with moonlight dropped into the ocean and were swallowed by oysters.
Moh's scale of hardness: 3 - 4
Care: Pearls are very sensitive to hairspray, perspiration, cosmetics, perfume or other acids. These may harm the finish of the pearl. Clean with a soft dry polishing cloth.

Peridot is possibly derived from the French word "peritot" meaning "unclear" (probably due to the cloudy nature of large Peridot stones), or from the Arabic word "faridat" meaning "gem". Regardless, Peridot has been mined as a gemstone for 4000 years. It is majorly composed of two minerals: Fayalite (a form of iron which colors the stone) and Forsterite (a form of magnesium). Peridot comes from Zagbargad (Zebirget) Island in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Ethiopia, Australia, Arizona and Hawaii. It's color is a yellow-green, olive green, brownish, or grass green.
Legend: Known as the "Gem of the Sun" to the Ancient Egyptians, Peridot was one of Cleopatra's favorites.
Moh's scale of hardness: 6.5 - 7
Care: This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance.

Serpentine is derived from the Latin word "serpent", probably because of it's blending layers and curves. Serpentine's stacked structure is composed of two different minerals layered between each other. The stacking is not perfect and has the effect of blending the layers. In its rough, unpolished form, Serpentine has a silky feel to the touch. It is used for jewelry and for carving. Serpentine is an interesting green stone that polishes nicely and can be difficult to distinguish from Jade. It comes from Italy, Russia, Rhodesia, Switzerland, North Carolina, California, Rhode Island and Arizona, as well as Quebec, Canada.
Legend: Seals in ancient Assyria were made of Serpentine so the gods and goddesses would send double blessings. Its other use was to ward off poisonous creatures, thus preventing the misfortune of being stung.
Moh's scale of hardness: 3-4.5
Care: Clean with a soft dry polishing cloth.

Named after the East African state of Tanzania, Tanzanite is sapphire blue, amethyst violet, lavender or periwinkle in color. Its scientific name is Blue Zoisite. It has a watery edge effect and exhibits different colors when viewed from different angles.
Legend: A fairly new gemstone, Tanzanite doesn't have much in the way of a known legend. It was discovered in Tanzania in 1967.
Moh's scale of hardness: 6 - 7
Care: Because of its low resistance to ultrasound, it should not be cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners. This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance.

This is an extremely popular gem, probably due to the availability of intense hues in a wide range of colors; clear, yellow, orange, red, blue and green. Topaz gets its name from Sanskrit "tapas", meaning "fire". This clear, bright gemstone is mined in Brazil, Pakistan, California, Utah, the Ural Mountains in Russia, and Mexico.
Legend: In ancient times, the figure of a falcon carved from a Topaz stone was thought to bring the goodwill of royalty. The Greeks felt Topaz gave them strength.
Moh's scale of hardness: 8
Care: This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance.

Tourmaline can be colorless, pink, red, yellow, brown, green, blue, violet, black, or multi-colored. One of the most popular variations of Tourmaline is a combination of pink and green, called "Watermelon Tourmaline". The name Tourmaline is said to have originated from the Sinhalese term "turmali", meaning "multi-colored".
Legend: Over history, people have referred to Tourmaline as the "muses' stone", believing that its imaginative colors contain inspirational powers enabling its beholder to bring forth unlimited vision and creativity. During the Manchu Dynasty in China (AD 1644-1911), members of the Mandarin class wore round buttons made of red Tourmaline to distinguish themselves from other classes of citizens. Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi was so fascinated by Tourmaline's beauty and color that she had over one ton of these precious gem stones in her royal collection.
Moh's scale of hardness: 7 - 7.5
Care: This stone can be cleaned with gem cleaner to maintain its brilliance.

Turquoise can be found in every color of blue, greenish blue or deep apple green. An abundance of copper causes Turquoise to have a deeper blue color, while more aluminum makes it greener. One of the first gemstones ever used for jewelry, it was found buried with a 7500-year-old mummy in Egypt. Its name comes from the trade route upon which it traveled to Europe via Turkey. This stone is found in Arizona and New Mexico as well as Australia, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Legend: In Asia, a Turquoise ring was worn to protect against all things evil. Indians of Mexico and the Southwestern United States used Turquoise to guard burial sites.
Moh's scale of hardness: 5 - 6
Care: Do not clean this stone in abrasive gem cleaner. Use a clean, dry polishing cloth.

Natural gemstones are graded in value much like a diamond - cut, clarity and carat. Their hardness is graded using the "Moh's Scale of Hardness". The following chart shows the toughness of various well-known gemstones.

SCALE 1 - 10
(with 10 being diamond and 1 being talc)

10 - Can only be scratched by a diamond: Diamond

9 - Scratches glass: Ruby & Sapphire

8 - Scratches glass: Topaz, Alexandrite, & Cubic Zirconia

7 - Scratches glass: Amethyst, Citrine, Garnet, Emerald, Tourmaline, Aquamarine & Quartz

6 - Can be scratched by a steel file: Moonstone, Peridot, Tanzanite, Sircon, Jade & Onyx

5 - Can be scratched by a knife: Turquoise, Opal, Lapis Lazuli, & Hematite

4 - Can be easily scratched by a knife: Malachite, Jet, Flourite, & Rhodochrosite

3 - Can be scratched by a coin: Pearl & Coral

2 - Can be scratched by a fingernail: Amber, Ivory, & Alabaster

1 - Can be easily scratched by a fingernail: Soapstone & Sulphur