We’re all used to the majority of gems being called by their name:
Diamond is diamond;
Opal is opal;
Turquoise is turquoise;
Even in it’s many different colours Topaz is still Topaz.
Emerald is emerald…well actually it’s Beryl…as is Morganite, Aquamarine, Heliodore and Goshenite! What distinguishes each of these is the colour that the gem comes in (green, pink, pale blue, yellow and colourless respectively).
Ruby, well that’s actually a form of Corundum, called Ruby only when it is red, when it is pinky orange it is called Padparadscha. All other colours of Corundum are called sapphires so you can find all kinds of sapphires, such as the green one below.
Tourmaline comes in a variety of colours and several of these have particular names too. When it is red/pink it is Rubellite, green is Verdelite, blue is the fabulous Indicolite and colourless is Achroite.
Tanzanite is a form of zoisite, Morganite is a Beryl and they were both named by Tiffany and Co.
Amazonite is a type of Feldspar, as is Labradorite. Incidentally Feldspar is the most prolific mineral in the Earth’s continental crust and can be found on Mars! This is a good example of two types of mineral which are chemically related but clearly very different.
Quartz (the second most abundant mineral behind Feldspar) has another wide variation in colour, and many names or nicknames to go with it. From the yellow citrine, to stunning purple amethyst (and of course the incredible ametrine is therefore part of this family).
Another variation is green quartz, sometimes referred to as green amethyst although if we were going to be strict about it that’s not it’s real name! So we are going to go with the official Prasiolite, and here’s an example:
However the quartz pseudonyms don’t stop there, even more strangely Chalcedony (see ring below), Agate, Onyx, Jasper, Tigers Eye, Aventurine and Carnelian are all types of quartz that you might not guess from the name!
Of course the feminine pink of rose quartz to the stunning brown hues of smokey quartz (ring above) and the fascinating Rutilated Quartz are also, more obviously part of the family.
Another slight confusion may arise when considering the names of gems in that often the gem quality variation of a type of mineral has a different name to the non-gem form, Csarite/Diaspore, Peridot/Olivine and Iolite/Cordierite by way of example.
Call them what you will, they’re all beautiful to us!