A Rainbow of Gemstones for Jewelry Making

It’s been raining here in eastern Pennsylvania. It’s been raining a lot! And we’ve seen more rainbows lately than I care to count. If only we could have the rainbows without the rain. Still, those colors in the sky are gorgeous.

ABOVE: Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love beautiful gemstones — the more colorful, the better. So when I was thinking about gemstones, rainbows came to mind. What a great way to pick some of my favorites — using the colors of the rainbow.

Most of the stones I picked here are quite unusual, and you may not be familiar with all of them. But each one is worth a look, and they fit beautifully in the rainbow of stones.

Lab-grown synthetic Padparadscha sapphire Chatham Created PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Lab-grown synthetic Padparadscha sapphire
Chatham Created


To begin our rainbow, let’s start with red (as you do). Okay, Padparadscha sapphire may not exactly be a “true” red. It’s really a pinkish/orange, but it would be beautiful in a rainbow. But there is no more beautiful stone, in my opinion. It can be very expensive, and true Padparadschas can be hard to find. But there are great synthetic Padparadschas which look just as stunning — and are more within reach.

Carnelian Courtesy: John F. Heusler PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Courtesy: John F. Heusler


I always think of Merle White, Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, when I think of carnelian. Orange is Merle’s very favorite color. And carnelian is an amazing orange stone. It’s classified as a cryptocrystalline quartz and is very inexpensive and easy to find. Carnelian is also very strong and can easily be set in any kind of jewelry. It’s easy to see why it’s one of my favorite stones — and Merle’s as well.

Citrine Courtesy: Stuller, Inc. PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Courtesy: Stuller, Inc.


The next color in our rainbow spectrum is yellow. As I was considering various gemstone colors, this was a very simple choice. I adore citrine! It’s a readily available form of quartz which comes in a wide array of yellow tones. It also combines beautifully with other colors and looks particularly stunning set in gold.

Maw-sit-sit gemstones Courtesy: Barlows Gems PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Courtesy: Barlows Gems


Confession time: green is my favorite color. I love deep green stones and use them whenever and wherever I can in my jewelry. So it was very hard to pick just one. Malachite, jade, emerald, aventurine, peridot — there are so many to choose from. But I finally settled on a lesser-known stone, maw-sit-sit. Check out that amazing color! It’s a distant cousin of jadeite and is found in only one mine in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Since the supply is limited, it is hard to find and can be quite expensive. But when you do find it (and if you can afford it), it’s worth grabbing. And just think of all the comments and questions you’ll get if you wear maw-sit-sit jewelry. “It’s what?”

Chrysocolla gemstones Courtesy: Barlows Gems PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Courtesy: Barlows Gems


Another color that’s difficult to narrow down to just one choice is blue. There are so many amazing blue gemstones. But my favorite is chrysocolla. A copper-based mineral, chrysocolla is most often found combined with stones of other colors — like malachite, azurite, cuprite, and more. And those combined stones are all gorgeous. But I really like chrysocolla in its pure blue state. Depending on the quality of the stone and whether or not it’s combined with something else, prices of chrysocolla can vary. And since it’s soft, it can be somewhat tricky to set. But if you want a sky-blue stone, it should certainly be at the top of your list.

Lapis lazuli Courtesy: Dikra Gems PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Lapis lazuli
Courtesy: Dikra Gems


Did you ever learn the “code” for naming the colors of the rainbow? I learned it in school (back when dinosaurs walked the earth). It’s the name “Roy G. Biv.” Each letter represents a color of the rainbow, in the order in which they appear. And the I? It stands for indigo. Indigo is that awesome color between blue and purple — a deep, lush, dreamy color. My favorite indigo stone? Well, that’s no contest. It’s lapis lazuli. It has been prized by jewelry makers since the earliest Egyptians. The highest quality lapis can be expensive and hard to find. But even stones that are classed as lower quality can be extremely beautiful. I particularly like it set in silver.

Charoite Courtesy: Stuller, Inc. PHOTO: JIM LAWSON

Courtesy: Stuller, Inc.


The final color in the spectrum is violet or purple. And my choice for the end of the rainbow is charoite. It’s not one of the most well-known stones, but the purple color is to die for. Charoite was first discovered in Siberia in the late 1970s, so it’s relatively new to the market. Since it only comes from one place, it can be hard to find. But it’s not prohibitively expensive, and it mates very well with other colors. Picture this purple gem combined with the yellow of citrine. Wow!

Other Gemstones for Jewelry Making

These are just my “over the rainbow” stone choices. Obviously, you’d probably have your own selections from the huge gemstone world. But it’s a fun way to pick and think about your favorite gemstones.

You can learn more about the stones I’ve listed here — a lot more — in the ebook, 100+ Favorite Jewelry Gemstones. It’s a collection of the Smokin’ Stones columns from more that 10 years of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Use it to learn more about a wide range of gemstone and to assemble your own stone spectrum.

Here’s to clear skies — and the occasional rainbow!

Karla Rosenbusch
Managing Editor, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Learn more about gemstones for jewelry making!

Post a Comment