The emerald is easily the most recognizable green gemstone, but there are also many other great options for your next jewelry piece. They come in many varieties, differing in rarity, durability, and cost.
Green gemstones have long been a popular choice for jewelry thanks to their neutral hue and ability to match many outfits. Here’s everything you should know about these versatile gems.
What are Green Gemstones?
Green gemstones encompass over 100 choices, all of which are varying shades of green. These can include varieties of quartz, green diamonds, and many more that we’ll discuss below.
Emerald is the most sought-after among regular buyers, but it’s not the rarest or most valuable green gem. That title is held by a specific version of jadeite known as Imperial Jade. Its deep green color has made it quite popular among collectors.
Symbolically, green gems represent life, health, renewal, harmony, and other positive, nurturing traits.
Types of Green Gemstones
Here are some of the most popular green gemstones.
Aventurine is a variety of translucent quartz characterized by mineral inclusions that give it a shimmering effect. It’s quite rough when untouched but looks gorgeous once it is polished up.
Aventurine works well for bead craft, as well as making bowls, sculptures, and similar items. It’s more affordable than competitors like jade, and the sparkle lends it a unique look. Aventurine is a relatively cheap stone.
Bloodstone (Heliotrope and Blood Jasper)
Bloodstone is a green stone with hematite inclusions that resemble flecks of blood. Its main color can vary from light green to nearly black, and it tends to have an impressive vitreous luster once polished.
Each bloodstone is one-of-a-kind when you examine it closely. The most valuable versions have flecks or swirls of red. Lower-quality gems will have almost no red inclusions. Inclusion patterns vary, so it can be hard to find a gem that has the exact look you’re going for.
Bloodstone averages $2-$3 a carat, making it a very affordable option.
Demantoid is part of the garnet family, with chromium creating the rich green color. Sometimes ferric iron will add bits of yellow. This stone was first discovered relatively recently in Russia in the mid-1800s.
Demantoids are either dark green or pale with rainbow flashes. This creates an interesting variation between stones. Unfortunately, they’re rare beyond 2 carats, which can affect some design choices. Their rarity also means they’re very expensive, at prices of up to $10,000 per carat.
Natural green diamonds are so rare that most people only ever see them in museums. Of course, this means they are super expensive. Often the green color only exists on the surface, so it takes careful cutting to maintain the hue.
Genuine green diamonds have amazing colors. The Dresden Green Diamond is one of the most famous diamonds in the world. It is possible to produce artificial green diamonds, so tracing sources is critical when shopping for genuine stones.
Green sapphires range from light to medium green, often with secondary colors of yellow and blue. This produces a wider variety of hues in each stone.
Green sapphire is a little-known stone, so it’s affordable although it’s rare. As a type of sapphire, it’s also hard and durable. These stones are difficult to buy online; the variety of colors possible in a single stone may not show up in photos. It can be hard to assess its color unless you see it in person.
Green sapphires can cost up to $1,000 per carat but are often available at a lower price.
Green topaz is a rare variant of topaz, presenting as a pale, greenish-yellow color. In most cases, the hue comes from the presence of chromium.
Topaz is a hard gem found all around the world in many colors, so it’s an affordable alternative to many others stones. However, color choices for deep green topaz are limited, and some dislike the more common yellow-green hue.
Green Tourmaline (Verdelite)
Green tourmaline displays a variety of colors ranging from pale to deep green. It is a popular and affordable alternative to emeralds due to its similar coloration.
Green tourmaline is available in a wide variety of cuts and colors, including some rare multi-color stones. While they are generally very strong stones, stones with inclusions are more prone to breakage.
One of the most well-known green gems, jade is an ornamental mineral especially popular in East/South Asia and Mesoamerica. It’s a soft stone that ranges from translucent to opaque. Prices vary a lot depending on quality.
Jade comes in pieces big enough to make large items, but high-quality jade is very expensive, priced at up to $3000 an ounce.
Prasiolite is a rarer variant of quartz, only found in a few places worldwide. Natural stones tend to have a pale color, while artificial prasiolite has a darker hue.
Prasiolite is affordable but somewhat brittle and easy to scratch. Its fragility keeps its cost down despite the rarity of natural stones.
Tsavorite is a rare version of garnet with trace amounts of chromium or vanadium. This produces a very intense color. It is a very clear stone, providing a much-desired hue.
Tsavorite has a deep and pleasing color, but it’s difficult to find in large carats. That holds it back from many jewelry applications, although large stones do exist. Tsavorite jewelry tends to be expensive due to its rarity.
Emerald, the green version of beryl, is perhaps the most iconic green gemstone in the world. True emeralds are medium-to-dark in hue and translucent, while pale versions are known as green beryl instead.
Emeralds are relatively hard, but they can also be a little brittle. Many have visible imperfections or fractures, which limits their usefulness for larger jewelry. Emerald jewelry can vary greatly in price.
Peridot is a pale silicate mineral and is heavily affected by the iron content inside it. It occurs only in an olive-green color. Some can reach a near emerald hue, but most trend more towards yellow.
Peridot is a bit soft and varies in color intensity. Gem-quality peridot is somewhat rare. On average, natural peridot costs between $50 and $80 per carat, but high-quality peridot jewelry can cost much more.
Turquoise is more of a stone than a gem, existing as a phosphate mixture of copper and aluminum. While it is known for its blue varieties, it presents in green as well. It’s softer than most other gems, but also readily available and affordable. You can also purchase finer pieces at a higher price.
Turquoise polishes well, especially when it’s purer, although spiderweb patterns are also nice. It’s not transparent or particularly reflective, so it won’t work in all jewelry settings.
Malachite is a secondary mineral formed when copper mixes with carbonated water or limestone. It’s an opaque green and tends to form distinctive striped patterns.
Malachite is extremely soft for a gem, usually hovering around 3.5-4 on the Mohs scale. That makes it hard to wear daily. Still, it is a very affordable stone and has a very unique look.
Green zircon is one of the rarer kinds of zircon, with the actual colors ranging from yellowish to olive. They have a very high refractive index, making them surprisingly shiny.
Green zircon is hard, and it fits well in most jewelry applications. However, they aren’t as well-known as other gems, which means it may be hard to find the right cut. This rare gemstone is highly sought-after by collectors.
Alexandrite is a variant of chrysoberyl, sitting at an impressive 8.5 on the Mohs scale. It famously changes color depending on the lighting, appearing green in the day and redder at night and in incandescent light.
Alexandrite is beautiful, especially if it has dramatic color changes, but it is also rare. This sharply limits availability and opportunities for use. This also bumps up the price, making it a very pricey stone.
Amazonite, also called Amazon Jade, is a tectosilicate mineral. Studies suggest the color comes from trace amounts of lead.
Amazonite comes in relatively large pieces and is often untreated. Though it can be difficult to find, it is reasonably priced. The less white marbling you find in the stone, the more expensive it may be.
Green agate is a mix of chalcedony and quartz, with trace amounts of other minerals providing the colors. This is a widely available stone despite it being a rarer shade of agate.
Green agate is common and affordable but doesn’t sparkle or reflect light in the same way traditional gems do. These factors limit its popularity.
Fluorite is a mineral form of calcium fluoride sitting at a 4 on the Mohs hardness scale. That makes it a particularly soft gem.
Fluorite is hard to use as a gem because it’s not as reflective or transparent as other stones. Outside of its use in jewelry, people buy green fluorite is for its metaphysical healing properties. It is also very affordable.
Labradorite tends to have an iridescent hue, so truly green versions are quite rare. The crystals here are triclinic, with two cleavage directions at near right-angles.
Labradorite is extremely hard to use ornamentally and is often not truly green. It is very affordable and often used in bohemian-style jewelry.
Pairing Green Gemstones with Metals
Green gemstones pair well with many metals thanks to their neutral color. They may look somewhat out of place in a rose gold setting, though this also provides an antique look. Green gemstones tend to pair best with yellow gold, as these colors are close together on the color wheel and form an analogous pair. Green gemstones also stand out against platinum, silver, and white gold.
Finding a Green Gemstone to Complement Your Skin Tone
Brighter stones, including many green gemstones, look particularly nice against cooler skin tones. Deep green gemstones stand out well against warm skin tones as well. Regardless, as long as you like the way a gemstone looks, it is a good choice. The most important thing when it comes to jewelry is the feeling you have when wearing it.
Where to Buy Green Gemstones
Most green gemstones are readily available online, outside of the rarest varieties. Online shopping is a great way to get lower-quality stones or opaque items like turquoise, but it’s better to look in person if you’re trying to find something with a great sparkle. Photos or videos may not do a high-quality stone justice.
Green Gemstones: The Bottom Line
Gemologists assess stones based on four factors: the color, the clarity, the cut, and the carats. Some of these are more important for some stones than others.
The important thing to remember is that gemologists and other experts can provide a certificate of authenticity for a stone. These are available from licensed jewelers, which are always the best source for genuine, high-quality stones.
There are so many varieties of green gemstones to choose from and so many ways to wear them. It’s no wonder that green gemstone jewelry is so popular and timeless; these pieces are truly a staple for every jewelry box.