Special Sparkles
September 6, 2010 10:58 AM   Subscribe

What stones have the most sparkle, are fabulously clear, can match the hardness of a diamond or ruby, and are surprisingly cost efficient? I love looking at stones for the perfect ring, but I am worn out on rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. Any suggestions on stones I have never heard about? Are there any secret stones that jewelers know about that are under appreciated? I am not looking for lab created or treated stones. Just natural but not as commonly used stones.
posted by MayNicholas to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
White sapphires? I have a ring with white sapphires and they're very sparkly.
posted by christinetheslp at 11:06 AM on September 6, 2010

Yep, white sapphires. They're as hard as ruby because, like ruby, they're corundum. And if you want cheap -- I know you said no lab stones, but lab-grown sapphire is chemically identical to mined sapphire, but usually of higher quality because of the controlled environment.
posted by KathrynT at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2010

Response by poster: I looked at those and the are pretty, but the stone does not have to be white. I want it to be clear- but not clear as in absence of color- clear as in not milky or murky in color.
posted by MayNicholas at 11:16 AM on September 6, 2010

Alexandrite (8.5 on Mohs scale) is almost as hard as a ruby or sapphire (9 on Mohs), not widely recognized, and it changes color.
posted by zepheria at 11:18 AM on September 6, 2010

Best answer: It's a kind of sapphire but I always thought padparadscha look cool.
posted by XMLicious at 11:22 AM on September 6, 2010

Response by poster: The padparadscha sapphire was exactly what got me started looking at different stones. I love those!
posted by MayNicholas at 11:27 AM on September 6, 2010

Alexandrite is NOT cost efficient! They cost nearly as much as diamonds. However, there are color change garnets that can achieve near the same color shift as an alexandrite.

MayNicholas, I think you're going to get two: sparkle, hardness, and less expensive. I don't know if you can get all three. You can look into the stones with double refraction, like zircon and sphene, but they have Mohs scores of 7 and 5.5, so while they're very sparkly, they're not hard. You might try looking at a Mohs scale for gemstones and starting from there.
posted by Addlepated at 11:31 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, Alexandrites can cost MORE than diamonds. ^^
posted by Addlepated at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2010

Assuming you mean "clear" as in clarity, not lack of color, tanzanite is very sparkly and can be very clear, but isn't as well known. However, it's mined primarily by child slave labor; it's actually a shame it isn't currently lab-grown so people can enjoy the beauty of the stone while refusing to participate in the exploitation of children. (Same holds true for many other gems.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:33 AM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Moissanite.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:33 AM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Tanzanite is beautiful. In my opinion, if you're actually looking to buy, the best way to discover something is to go into a store. Just DON'T go to a run-of-the-mill diamonds-and-pearls store, but a quirkier place like Shady Lane in Palo Alto, CA. They have astonishingly beautiful stones of all kinds, like a deep yet brilliant green one (I forget the mane) that makes emeralds look brash and trashy (and is much cheaper than an emerald). That way you can see what catches your eye in person. Regular jewelry stores, whether at a mall or Tiffany's, don't carry that kind of thing (or as much of it) because they can't charge through the nose for it. The staff at Shady Lane are very helpful and don't mind discussing stones and educating you, even if you wind up buying something small and using your new stone knowledge to order something custom-made somewhere else. (I mean, I wouldn't recommend just picking their brains and not buying anything at all...) Anyway, just a thought.

Good luck finding the right thing!
posted by wintersweet at 11:37 AM on September 6, 2010

Er, I forgot the name of that green stone. Hm. Lack of coffee induces dyslexia in me? That's new.

Oh, and sigh on tanzanite. :| Should have previewed (I don't actually own any; I've just admired its color many times). I'm starting to think I should just switch to dichroic glass for everything.
posted by wintersweet at 11:39 AM on September 6, 2010

My engagement ring has a small green sapphire. Green sapphire is fairly inexpensive and I think the color of mine is very beautiful -- it's not a vivid green like emerald, instead it's more of a bottle-green color (but I think there's a good deal of variability between individual stones -- I've seen ones that looked more like peridot and ones that looked much brighter, almost like tsavorite). It's interesting, because although the color isn't particularly vivid or saturated, the stone isn't milky or murky at all; there's definitely a lot of sparkle going on.
posted by kataclysm at 11:42 AM on September 6, 2010

p.s. Wintersweet might be thinking of tsavorite garnet, which is a beautiful stone but isn't quite as hard as a corundum.
posted by kataclysm at 11:43 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I came in to cautiously recommend tanzanite.
posted by reverend cuttle at 11:44 AM on September 6, 2010

Another good place to ask this question is on the colored stone forum of Pricescope.com, which is the Metafilter of gemstones and diamonds.
posted by Addlepated at 11:46 AM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Or, if you like oranges and reds, how about spessartite garnet?
posted by kataclysm at 11:48 AM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Tsavorite - alas, the same objections pretty much apply.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:56 AM on September 6, 2010

Ugh, sorry for posting so many freaking times, but I keep thinking of random new little bits of information.

Do you really need for the stone to be as hard as a corundum, or do you just need it to be fairly hard? Generally, if you're looking for a stone to put in a tension-set ring, you need a really hard stone, at least 8 on the Mohs scale (e.g. diamond, sapphire, ruby, alexandrite, CZ, chrysoberyl, and maybe spinel or topaz.)

If you're going to put the stone in a traditional setting but you still want it to be safe during everyday wear, you can go down to maybe around a 7 or 7.5 on the Mohs scale, which opens a lot more doors (and also will have a lot of pretty but less-expensive stones).
posted by kataclysm at 11:57 AM on September 6, 2010

You said no lab stones but commercial Moissanite is, afaik, all lab grown. (A plus in my book.) Moissanite is definitely something to consider if hardness and sparkle are top priorities. My engagement ring (Tiffany-style solitaire) is a half-carat Moissanite and it brings the sparkle like crazy. I'd recommend seeing some in person. No photos I've come across do justice to the SPARKLE.

I think Moissanite is available in green as well as "white." One potential drawback, iirc, is that Moissanite can't be cut into quite as many shapes as, say, diamonds.
posted by Neofelis at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2010

Yep, agree that Tanzanite is gorgeous, but also prohibitively expensive.

I love colored stones, too, and find diamonds a bit boring. My favorite is amethyst (7 on Moh's scale), which is affordable and beautiful. If you're looking for something more unusual, try Moldavite and Chrome Diopside, both green stones.

Try looking around the jewelry section of HSN.com; most of the jewelry is hideous, but they always seem to have unusual stones there.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:59 PM on September 6, 2010

Because I like green, I like the tashmarine, which is really a marketing name for yellowish green diopside.

But it's very pretty, not that pricey, and unusual.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:44 PM on September 6, 2010

Response by poster: Great suggestions! Thank you for the input!
posted by MayNicholas at 8:01 PM on September 6, 2010

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