Green is among the most sought-after colours for gemstones and has always been an important colour in the gemstone world. It is a sophisticated colour that adds a touch of elegance to any outfit. Green symbolizes life and renewal, as well as freshness, nature and energy. It is the most soothing colour on the spectrum and we are naturally drawn to it.
Although emeralds may be the most well-known green gemstone, there are over a 100 types of green gemstones that can be used in jewellery. These range in shades, prices and features, and it can be difficult to choose the right stone to suit your purposes.
- An exclusive gemstone
- Extremely rare
- Very expensive
- Synthetic varieties available
- Green Diamonds are extremely rare. While most coloured diamonds get their colour from the presence of trace elements, green diamonds are quite unique in this respect. They receive their colouring from natural irradiation that occurs over thousands of years. Yes, radiation is dangerous, but green diamonds are not radioactive and are safe to wear.
Green diamonds are very expensive, but not as much as red or pink diamonds. They are found ranging in shades from faint to deep green, sometimes with secondary tones of yellow, brown or blue. Because they are so expensive, synthetic (man-made) green diamonds offer a more affordable option.
- Green Sapphire
- Highly durable
- Commonly heat treated
- Synthetic varieties available
Until recently, green sapphires were not considered very desirable, but they are now increasing in popularity. Green sapphires are quite rare and get their colour from the presence of iron. Because blue is the desirable sapphire colour, it can be difficult to find green sapphire jewellery.
These gemstones come in shades varying from faint green to dark green, with secondary hints of blue or yellow. Because of sapphire’s excellent gemstone qualities, such as high durability (Mohs 9), brilliance and beauty, green sapphires are a good choice for all types of rings. Most green sapphires are heat treated, which is a common industry standard.
- Most well-known green stone
- Often heavily included
- Commonly treated
- Not highly durable
- A beryl variety
The most popular green gemstone of all, emeralds have been used since antiquity. The famous Egyptian queen Cleopatra was known for wearing emeralds. Emeralds were even used in burial rituals, as mummies have been found buried with emeralds.
Emeralds are a member of the illustrious beryl family of gemstones. When purchasing an emerald, the most important factor is colour.
After all, an emerald is nothing if not green. The more intense and vivid the colour, the more valuable the stone. Most emeralds contain inclusions, often moss-like threads nicknamed ‘jardin’ for the French word garden. These are very common and eye-clean emeralds are incredibly rare. Emeralds are fairly durable stones (7.5 to 8 Mohs) but the inclusions can cause the stone to weaken and chip when exposed to rough wear. They are commonly treated and fracture-filled to enhance colour and stability. Emeralds are ideal for all types of jewellery but extra care must be taken if chosen for an engagement ring.
- Tough and compact
- Medium hardness
- Rarely faceted
- Highly valued in Asian countries
- Waxy to vitreous lustre
The word jade is nearly a synonym of green. Jade has been valued and used since ancient times, especially in China where jade usage can be traced back to over 7000 years ago! Jade comes in two varieties: jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite is considered more valuable and of better quality, while nephrite is more abundant and less expensive. Jade is fairly soft (6 Mohs) but very tough due to its compact composition. Most jade is often cut into cabochons or various special smooth cuts or carved. Faceting jade is less common but can give the gemstone an added brilliance. Jade has an attractive waxy lustre that makes you want to reach out and touch the gemstone.
- Green Agate
- Commonly included
- Vitreous lustre
- Often enhanced
- Medium hardness
- Agate is found in a variety of colours, with green being one of the more rarer varieties. It is generally banded or found with dendritic inclusions. Unicolour green gemstones are almost always dyed to achieve the colour. Agate is smooth with a vitreous lustre, and is generally translucent to opaque. They are commonly cut into cabochons but sometimes faceted for more depth and light reflection. Agates have very good durability (7 Mohs) and are suitable for all types of jewellery. Green agate is a fairly affordable gemstone although the quality of the setting and workmanship involved can hike the price of the overall piece.
- Tsavorite Garnet
- Relatively new gemstone
- Very Rare
- Popular and sought-after
- Relatively expensive
- Good durability
- Good substitute for emerald
Tsavorite (a.k.a. tsavolite) is a new gemstone in the jewellery market. It is a variety of the green grossular garnet and gets its striking green colour from trace amounts of vanadium or chromium present during its formation. Tsavorite is one of the most popular of the garnet varieties and due to its rarity, it is quite valuable. Tsavorite is a very good substitute for emeralds, as it is more durable (7 to 7.5 Mohs), less expensive and equally beautiful and brilliant. What’s more, unlike emeralds, tsavorites are rarely (if ever) treated and are a natural gem. They have also not yet been synthesized.
Tsavorite gemstones occur in vivid green shades and are generally eye-clean stones of excellent transparency. They are almost always faceted to enhance their brilliance. Most tsavorite is found in up to 1 carat pieces with stones over 2 carats being rare.
- Demantoid Garnet
- Most valuable garnet type
- Found in small sizes
- Distinctive inclusions
- Good brilliance
Another member of the garnet family, demantoids belong to the andradite variety. Demantoids are the most valuable type of garnets and are also very rare. Most demantoid gemstones come in sizes under 2 carats so finding a large demantoid stone is difficult.
Demantoids occur in colours ranging from faint to vivid emerald green. Some have secondary colours of yellow or brown, which are less desirable. Vivid green demantoids, which primarily come from Russia, are the most valuable. Some demantoids contain rare horsetail shaped inclusions, which are not found in other gems. These inclusions add value to the stone, making demantoids one of the very few gemstones that gain value from its impurities. Demantoids are highly brilliant gemstones and are durable enough for regular use.
- Good durability
- Reasonably priced
- Nicknamed the volcanic gemstone
Peridot is an idiochromatic stone meaning that it is only found in one colour. It comes in shades of green, often with yellowish tones. Peridot is one of only two stones (the other being diamonds) that are formed deep within the mantle of the earth and come to the surface through violent geological activity. This is why it is also known as the volcanic gemstone. Peridot is durable enough for regular use (6.5 to 7 Mohs) but ideally should be mounted in protective settings, such as bezel, when used in rings. Peridot can be cut into all standard gems shapes, such as ovals, marquise, rounds, squares and trilliants. These shapes bring out the brilliance of the stone. Most peridot is eye-clean but can sometimes contain Lilly pad-like inclusions or little black spots, visible under magnification.
- Colour-changing stone
- Very expensive
- Synthetic varieties common
- Highly durable
Alexandrite is a colour-changing stone, known for being an ‘emerald by day and a ruby by night’. It is valued for its ability to change colour from green to red based on the light source it is viewed under. Because alexandrite is very expensive and rare, the majority of alexandrites on the market are lab-created versions. On a side note, lab-created doesn’t mean fake. They are identical to natural alexandrites with the main difference being that they were created using science and technology.
Alexandrite is a hard stone (8.5 Mohs) and has excellent durability and toughness. It can be used in all types of jewellery and worn every day.
- Named after the Amazon River
- Fairly hard (Mohs 6 to 6.5)
- Translucent to opaque
- Vitreous lustre
This gemstone presumably gets its name from the Amazon Rainforest even though there are no amazonite deposits in that area. It comes in shades of light green to a blue-green colour, but the most desirable variety is a deep, leaf-green. Amazonite often contains white streaks or lines, forming random patterns that add character and depth to the stone. These beautiful gemstones are not generally treated or enhanced in any way. They are abundantly found and are reasonably priced.
11. Green Tourmaline – a.k.a. Verdalite
- Popular green gemstone
- Valuable colour – mint green
- Very good durability
- Vitreous lustre
Tourmaline comes in all colours of the rainbow, with the green variety known as verdalite. Green tourmaline is a very popular gemstone and is found in all shades of green, with mint green being the most valuable. Tourmalines contain no cleavage and is quite hard (7 to 7.5 Mohs) making it a durable gemstone. Generally, green tourmalines contain little to no impurities, but those with inclusions are weaker and more prone to damage.
Green tourmalines have a vitreous lustre and interact beautifully with light. When used in jewellery, green tourmalines are often faceted to maximize the reflection of light. While most tourmalines are heat treated, this is not common for green varieties.
- A type of quartz
- Displays aventurescence
- Medium durability
- Often opaque
Aventurine is a variety of the common quartz family. It is commonly green but can also be found in other colours. It has beautiful colours from light to dark forest green. Aventurine has a glitter effect across its surface that comes from the small flaky impurities present in the stone, known as aventurescence. This is a desirable quality of the gemstone and adds to its beauty.
Although of medium hardness (6.5 to 7 Mohs) aventurine is a tough gemstone due to its compact structure. It has a vitreous to waxy lustre and is often translucent to opaque. Aventurine is mostly cut into cabochons and is classified as a minor gemstone. Aventurine can fit all styles of jewellery, such as bohemian, vintage and contemporary designs, depending on the type of setting it is paired with.
13. Green Labradorite
- Displays labradorescence
- Opaque varieties preferred
- Low hardness
- Fairly durable
Labradorite is a beautiful gemstone that often has distinct iridescence (known as labradorescence_ and displays flashes of colour. Some labradorite displays the entire spectrum of colours while others are more subdued. Opaque varieties of labradorite are more desirable as they have labradorescence, whereas rare, transparent labradorite does not display this.
Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar and displays its distinct labradorescence due to the way in which the rock is formed with the impurities within it. Ranking at 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, it is not very scratch resistant but is a fairly tough stone. It is used in various styles of jewellery, but is particularly beautiful in bohemian and gypsy designs.
14. Bloodstone – a.k.a. Heliotrope and Blood Jasper
- Red/brown spots across surface
- Medium hardness
- Historically significant
- Bloodstone derives its name from the red and brown spots that dot its surface, like blood spots. Apart from this morbid association, bloodstones are beautiful gemstones that have been used since ancient times. Bloodstones are dark green to bluish-green gemstones of the chalcedony family and have a hardness of 6.5 to7. They are normally cut en cabochon but may sometimes be faceted. They are also ideal for carvings. Due to its hardness and toughness, bloodstone can be made into any type of jewellery, from delicate pieces to statement items. They are especially popular as a gemstone for men’s rings. Bloodstones are usually not treated or enhanced in anyway and the colour is natural. They are also very affordable making them a perfect gemstone to add to any jewellery collection.
- 15. Malachite
- Often displays banding and eyes
- Very soft
Malachite is known for its bright green colour and interesting banding and eyes. The inclusions and intergrowths of malachite with other minerals and elements create beautiful and intriguing patterns. Malachite is a fairly abundant and is reasonably priced. However, high-quality malachite gemstones with unusual patterns or chatoyancy will command higher prices.
Malachite is a very soft gemstone (3.4 to 4) and has perfect cleavage. As a result, if exposed to rough wear and knocks, malachite can easily be damaged. It also does not handle heat or chemicals well. However, due to its stunning patterns and relative affordability, malachite is a popular gemstone, especially for statement pieces.
16. Green Topaz
- Very brilliant
- High durability
- Often transparent
- Not a common colour
Topaz is naturally colourless but gets its colours from the presence of trace elements such as chromium. Green topaz is generally very light in colour with a vitreous lustre. However, it is not a very popular topaz colour.
Green topaz is quite brilliant and is often faceted to bring out this brilliance. Green topaz, like all topaz varieties, is an ideal gemstone for jewellery because it is durable (8 Mohs) and affordable. It is often transparent and rarely contains visible inclusions. Green topaz can be used in all types of jewellery, from bracelets and rings to earrings and pendants.
Other Notable Green Gemstones
There are many green gemstones in use in the jewellery world. Green Zircon – Zircon is a natural gemstone, not to be confused with cubic zirconia. It is highly brilliant and fiery and is quite rare. Natural zircon is the oldest mineral found on earth.
- Green Pearl – These are a variety of black pearls. They are known for displaying an iridescent green sheen against a dark body tone.
- Green Fluorite– This gemstone is highly valued in crystal healing. It is a very popular mineral and has bright, vivid hues.
- Prasiolite– Often called green amethyst, prasiolite is produced by heating or irradiating natural amethyst. It is not a naturally coloured gemstone.
- Green Apatite– This is a rarer apatite colour and comes in a variety of shades. Green apatite is lustrous and beautiful. However, most apatite stones have visible inclusions.
Green Gemstones and Metals
Green gemstones go well with all metal colours, but the metal colour can affect the style of the jewellery. For example, white metals such as platinum, silver or white gold give a contemporary look to green gemstones while rose gold offers a unique, vintage look. Green gemstones set in silver have a very attractive appearance. The colour theory behind this is that green and silver create an analogous colour combination. This forms a relaxing and immediately likeable impression.
Green Gemstones and Skin Tone
Certain colours compliment certain skin tones better than others. There are three main types of skin tone – warm, neutral and cool. If you aren’t sure what your skin tone is, read our article on skin tones.
Green gemstones are particularly flattering against warm skin tones and can bring out the blush, earthy undertones of the skin. But this of course is not a hard and fast rule. If the gemstone looks good on you then that’s all that matters.