Ruby is distinguished for its bright red color, being the most famed and fabled red gemstone. Beside for its bright color, it is a most desirable gem due to its hardness, durability, luster, and rarity. Transparent rubies of large sizes are even rarer than Diamonds. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral Corundum. Sapphire, the other gem variety of Corundum, encompasses all colors of Corundum aside from red. In essence, Ruby is a red Sapphire, since Ruby and Sapphire are identical in all properties except for color. However, because of the special allure and historical significance, Ruby has always been classified as an individual gemstone, and is never identified as a form of Sapphire (though some purplish-red colors may straddle the line of being classified as either Ruby or Sapphire).
Sapphire is the most precious and valuable blue gemstone. It is a very desirable gemstone due to its excellent color, hardness, durability, and luster. In the gem trade, Sapphire without any color prefix refers to the blue variety of the mineral Corundum. However, the term Sapphire encompasses all other gem varieties and colors of Corundum as well, excluding Ruby, the red variety of Corundum, which has its own name since antiquity.
Topaz makes an ideal gem. A good hardness and desirable colors, combined with a relative abundance and availability makes it one the most popular gemstones. The most valuable colors of Topaz are the golden orange-yellow type, called Imperial Topaz, and the dark pinkish-red and orange-red colors. Value increases with a deepness of color in orange and reddish hues. The most commonly used colors of Topaz in jewelry are the blue types. It was not until this past century that blue Topaz became widespread on the gem market, since virtually all blue gem Topaz is irradiated and heat treated.
Agate is a banded form of finely-grained, microcrystalline Quartz. The lovely color patterns and banding make this translucent gemstone very unique. Agates can have many distinctive styles and patterns, but each Agate is unique in its own habit, with no two Agates being the same.
Garnet is not a single mineral, but describes a group of several closely related minerals. Garnets come in a variety of colors and have many different varieties. However, the most widely-known color of Garnet gemstones is dark red. When the term "Garnet" is used, it is usually connotative of the dark red form; other color Garnets are usually given more descriptive gemstone terms.
Quartz is one of the most common and varied minerals on earth, and its abundant colors produce many gemstone types. Amethyst and Citrine are the most popular and valuable gem varieties of Quartz, but other forms also make important gemstones. Chalcedony describes any form of Quartz that is microcrystalline, in compact form without any visible crystals. Chalcedony also has several varieties used as gemstones, most notably Agate, Carnelian, Tiger's Eye, and Chrysoprase.
Tourmaline is the most colorful of all gemstones. It occurs in all colors, but pink, red, green, blue and multicolored are its most well-known gem colors. Scientifically, tourmaline is not a single mineral, but a group of minerals related in their physical and chemical properties. The mineral Elbaite is the member of the Tourmaline group that is responsible for almost all the gem varieties. Three other members of the group - Schorl, Dravite and Liddicoatite, are seldom used as gemstones.
Emerald, the green variety of Beryl, is the most famous and valuable green gemstone. Its beautiful green color, combined with durability and rarity, make it one of the most expensive gemstones. Deep green is the most desired color in Emeralds. In general the paler the color of an Emerald, the lesser its value. Very pale colored stones are not called Emeralds but rather "Green Beryl". They are sometimes heat treated, which causes their color to turn blue and transform into Aquamarine.