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Color Gemstones: Going Beyond the Big Three

When there are color gemstones like pink sapphire, citrine and alexandrite to choose from, gifting yourself and others is even more exciting.

Emeralds and sapphires and rubies, oh my! The Big Three precious color gemstones are on many “want” lists. Are you looking to gift one of these spectacular color gemstones to yourself or someone else? While there’s no reason to steer clear of the Big Three, you might not realize how many other color gemstone options you have.

There are several ways to narrow down the many color gemstone choices beyond the Big Three:

The options fall into the category of semi-precious color gemstones. They can provide you with a bigger stone at a lower cost, and set you up with a unique piece that becomes your go-to cocktail party conversation starter.

There are several ways to narrow down the many color gemstone choices beyond the Big Three: We recommend focusing on basic color, the meaning behind a gemstone and how you’ll use the piece of jewelry the stone(s) sit(s) in.

Color 101

It’s easiest to start with basic color — that’s what humans are drawn to. Think of a rainbow — red, yellow, pink, green, orange, purple, blue — that’s your baseline of color (but don’t forget black, brown and white, which completely throw off the rainbow analogy, but offer some additional distinctive choices). If you’re looking for a color gemstone gift for yourself, start with the color or colors you love the most. If it’s a gift for a friend or loved one, focus in on their color style.

You might consider what color clothing your friend wears often. If she dresses mostly in black, you can choose from a million different colors, making the decision more difficult. If she wears lots of prints, patterns and textures, you’ll want something that’s toned down — or works with a common thread. An animal print aficionado, for instance, might love a statement ring of brown, champagne and white diamonds.

Hidden meaning

If what’s most important to you is the meaning behind the stone, most color gemstones have a folkloric foundation. For instance, jade is known as a symbol of love and virtue, while amethyst was used in medieval times to protect soldiers going into battle and is used to make the wearer feel brave.

For a simpler meaning, look to your birthstone— it represents the month of your birth. If your birthday is in November, then a beautifully faceted citrine may have more meaning to you than a pearl or sapphire. The June birthstone, alexandrite, is a “chameleon” of a color gemstone. Depending on its country of origin, natural alexandrite exhibits color change from green to greenish blue and red to purplish red under different light sources. In daylight, color combinations are visible. There can be deeper meaning to the birthstones, which may add to your enjoyment of a purchase.

How will you use it?

This might seem like an odd question when choosing a color gemstone, but some stones are very hard and others are soft. Are you hard on your hands? Then you might not want an opal ring you plan to wear daily — unless it’s in a highly protective setting. Opals are usually found in thin layers in the earth and created from variations of silica and water. So you’re talking about a thin color gemstone to begin with. Differing percentages of water may make them brittle if they’re stored in a dry environment or exposed to heat over a long period of time. Will that opal be sitting on your neck in a gorgeous pendant that only comes out for special occasions (and is stored in a nicely humid environment)? Then it might be the perfect color gemstone for you.

Color 201

Back to color, because it’s likely the big “decider.” The Big Three color gemstones are stunning examples of blue, red and green gems.

If blue is your color, you could consider tanzanite, zircon, opal and lapis lazuli. If it’s red, garnet can be a lovely option. And your choices for green gemstones are outstanding: from peridot to malachite to jade, green is a very common color in the precious and semi-precious gemstone world.

Thinking pink? Consider pink sapphire. Sapphire is found in all colors of the rainbow, but the pinks are especially beautiful.

While not an encyclopedia of color gemstones, we hope the information here gives you a foundation from which to start your color gemstone search. Now that you know there is this much choice, you don’t have to choose the obvious!

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