Pink, red, purple, and delicate rose are among the most popular of gemstone colors. When it comes to designing your own piece of jewelry, you have more choices than you might think. The topaz, tourmaline, garnet, beryl, and even the humble quartz families all have something to offer. Both the rarest and most common examples come from corundum, a.k.a sapphire, and from the closely related spinel varieties.
Quartz is rarely the first mineral name to come to mind in connection to fine jewelry, but its purple form, amethyst, has been one of the most popular gemstones since antiquity. Less common, but equally beautiful, is rose quartz. Both are worthy of consideration in your fashion design. Quartz varieties, having no cleavage and a relatively robust hardness rating of 7, make excellent, affordable options for fashion designs.
Tourmaline, when it contains traces of manganese, is pink. A bit more manganese produces tourmaline with an even deeper red color, which is called rubellite. An interesting quality of tourmaline is called pleochroism, a fancy word that simply means the color looks different depending on the angle you view it from. Tourmaline is slightly softer than topaz or beryl, but still durable enough for everyday wear.
Garnet is available in a wide range of warm hues, but is most often associated with the deep, red color that gave the stone its name. “Gernet” in Middle English literally means “deep red,” and is likely a reference to the pulpy, red seeds of the pomegranate fruit. The different red hues are the result of varying amounts of iron, manganese, and aluminum appearing in the crystalline structure. The right proportions of iron and manganese result in a distinctive purple variety found in Mozambique.
The rosy hues in topaz are caused by chromium. As with tourmaline, you might see a shift in color from different angles, but the effect is not as strong. Although harder than turmaline and quartz, topaz can split if struck hard enough from just the right—or wrong, perhaps—direction.
Morganite, named after Wall Street financier J. P. Morgan, is the pink version of beryl. (You know green beryl by an entirely different name—emerald!) Caused by traces of manganese, morganite offers one of the softest, truest pinks of any of the gemstones listed here. Although emeralds are known for their brittle delicate nature, morganite is considered to be both tough and durable.
When otherwise clear corundum crystallizes in the presence of chromium, and often iron, as well, the result is called pink sapphire. If the concentration of chromium is high enough to produce a rich, red color, the resulting sapphire variant is crowned with a name all its own—ruby. (Fun fact: traditionally, all gemstone-quality pink sapphires, regardless of saturation, have been called rubies. In the United States, the gems possess show a sufficiently deep, highly saturated red to earn the name “ruby.”) Spinal is essentially corundum plus magnesium, and the two gemstones are often form in the same areas of southeast Asia. The scientific distinction between the two minerals was not made until the 1950’s, and some famous “rubies,” such as the Black Prince’s Ruby in the British Crown Jewels, are actually spinels.
It is ironic, but the very attribute that makes ruby so attractive as a gemstone—its distinctive color—also limits its use in jewelry. Although many people are initially drawn to its brilliant hues, many ultimately decide it’s actually too intense for everyday wear and opt for a softer shade of sapphire, or choose a different color, altogether. (Of course, the fact that the cost of very fine rubies can exceed that of diamonds may also influence that decision.)
So there you have them, your choices of pinks to reds to purples in a range of gemstones. If you’re interested in expressing the warmer side of your personality, talk to one of our design consultants and arrange to get a hands-on look at your design options.