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Minerals in Silver Jewelry

Jewelry styles have traditionally waxed and waned in and out of fashion. A consistant aspect to many types of gold and silver jewelry are the association of minerals which are incorporated into the design work of the jewelry items. The vast array of colors and tones available through the different mineral species affords a wide spectrum of choices from which a jewelry designer may pick the best and most advantageous color scheme desired.

What Makes Gemstones So Special in Silver Jewelry?

Many types of minerals lend themselves best to a specific type of cutting style such as a cabochon, a rough crystal point, or the more sophisticated and elegant faceted gemstone. The earthy and holistic aspects of minerals engender a sense of unity between the bearer of such jewelry items in conjunction with nature. Sterling silver jewelry, with its neutral and whitish metallic color, is the perfect backdrop onto which these vibrant colors and textures can be displayed and worn, with the different minerals "painting" a silver jewelry landscape on the high polish or antiqued silver bracelet, pendant, silver earring, necklace, gemstone ring, or other type of silver jewelry category.

Table of Minerals in Silver Jewelry:



AbaloneAbalone is mineral generated by the marine mollusks and used for many silver jewelry items.
Agate Banded colors of quartz take center stage with silver jewelry of the agate collection.
AlexandriteAlexandrite, the birthsone for June, is named after the Czar Alexander of Russia in the former Soviet Union.
Amazonite Amazonite is gemstone variety of microcline feldspar and varies in color from yellowish green to blue green.
AmberMade naturally from the resin or pine sap of ancient plants, amber is one of the few minerals with an organic origin.
AmethystBrazil, Mexico, Canda, and Europe are all major players in the amethyst market.
AquamarineAquamarine and emeralds are classed in same group of minerals known as beryls.
AventurineMica, hematite, and several other minerals are often found within the green quartz variety of the aventurine gemstone.
Black Onyx Black onyx is abundant in many parts of the world including India, Brazil, and Madagascar.
Cat's EyeGemstones which display the cat's eye phenomenon are said to exhibit the optical property of chatoyancy.
DiamondUtilized almost exclusively as the gemstone representing love, eternity, and happiness, the diamond is the hardest gem material on earth.
EmeraldMost of the better quality emeralds which hail from Brazil are often highly included.
FeldsparThe feldspars are really a family of minerals and not merely a single gemstone.
FluoriteThe term fluorescence gets its name from the mineral fluorite as this mineral often exhibits this characteristic glow.
Garnet Granatium, the latin word for pomegranate is the sorce for the word garnet
Gaspeite Relatively new to the jewelry industry, the mineral gaspeite is unique with its opaque, Granny Smith apple green color.
HematiteFrequently fashioned as a cabochon or beads, the mineral hematite is highly versatile.
Iolite With its light bluish to violet color, the mineral iolite is often referred to as "water sapphire".
JadeBecasue of its tenacity, strength, and toughness jade was first utilized in the making of prehistoric weapons.
Jasper Jasper is generally used for ornamentation such as ashtrays, jewelry boxes, and candlesticks and secondarily in silver jewelry.
JetWhat is jet? How is jet formed? What are the properties of jet?
KunziteThe light pink variety of the mineral spodumene is a primary source of lithium and is known in the the jewelry world as kunzite.
Lapis LazuliLapis lazuli is the product of limestone and contact metamorphism.
Malachite Turquoise and malachite are traditional gemstones used in southwestern silver jewelry.
MarcasiteWithin fossil beds, marcasite may frequently be found as a replacement mineral.
Milk QuartzQuartz occurs naturally in many colors including a white variation known as milky quartz or milk quartz.
OpalThe extensive deserts on the continet of Australia are responsible for 95% of the world's opal gem material available today.
PearlOne of the few gems materials with an organic origin, pearls are a product of marine and fresh water mollusks.
Peridot The characteristic green color of peridot owes its existance to the ratio of iron to magnesium within the mineral.
Pink MusselShallow and gravel-rich freshwater less than two feet deep are the preferred habitat requirements of of the pink mussel.
QuartzQuartz is available in dozens of colors and is the earth's most abundant mineral.
Rose Quartz Of all the colors available naturally in quartz, the light pink hues of the rose quartz are the most feminine.
RubyThe distinctive red color of ruby enhance both silver and gold jewelry with elegance.
Tiger Eye Often a favorite of men's jewelry, tiger eye affords a characteristic brown and gold banded shimmering effect.
TourmalineThe colors of tourmaline are highly varied and may even present themselves as bicolor as in the pink and green variety known as "watermelon tourmaline".
TurquoiseInspiring and exhilarating, turquoise is the quintessential southwest silver jewelry gemstone.
Sapphire One of the world top three best-selling gemstones, the world's best sapphires are found in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, and Brazil.
SodaliteDark blue in color, sodalite is frequently mistaken for lapis, however the presence of white veins are only present in the sodalite mineral.
SpinelSpinel's red color so closely resembles that of fine ruby, making spinel a less expensive substitute for many jewelers.
Sugilite The mid range purple is typical color for the mineral named sugilite, named for the Japanese geologist Ken-ichi Sugi, who discovered it.
Tanzanite Along with amethyst, tanzanite is one of the most popular of the purple colored gemstones.
TopazTopaz is frequently found in 10 colors in nature, with the pink to reddish orange known as imperial topaz known to be the scarcest and most valuable.
Zircon The mineral zircon has been known to man for over 3000 yers and has been called such names as jargon, hyacinth and jacinth.

Our Information From Plum Island Silver

Plum Island Silver offers a series of mineral information pages for the jewelry buyer or connoisseur. A select number of mineral species are center stage, each on their own page, complete with information such as mineral formulas, physical properties, famous localities, well-known and historical examples of that mineral species, as well as examples of pieces of silver jewelry which display that particular stone within our silver jewelry catalog. Additionally, there are links to sites for more detailed reading about specific minerals as well as any other interesting data and may include photos and graphics.

What are Minerals?

Minerals are defined as a naturally occurring, homogeneous, inorganic substance with a definite atomic structure and a range of chemical composition. Within these pages, each component of the definition so as to make clear the exact nature of what a mineral is and is not.
  • Naturally occurring means that minerals are not something that is manufactured or created by humans, they are a part of the physical interrelatedness of our planet and are created and recycled naturally as part of the rock cycle. While fabrication of minerals such as emeralds, quartz crystals and diamonds can be performed in a laboratory under specific conditions, for our purposes were are limiting our definition to include only natural minerals, not those which are man-made.
  • Homogeneous refers to the the uniformity of the mineral; it is the same throughout.
  • Inorganic is used to refer to the non-living origin of mineral materials, however they are a few exceptions to this part of the definition, such as pearls and amber.
  • Definite atomic structure concerns the framework of the specific mineral around which the molecules of different elements form the core internal and microscopic structure.
  • Range of chemical composition allows for substitution of certain elements for one another within the defined framework of the mineral structure. This means that mineral formulas can be highly simple to extremely complex depending on the extent of the compositional range.

How are Minerals Formed?

Mineral formation occurs in a multitude of geologic environments and among these are:
  • Sedimentary environments which occur as a result of minerals carried within streams and rivers, deposited there or in the ocean resulting in mineral formation by means of evaporation, settling as a layer, or precipitating out of seawater.
  • Weathering which occurs as the breakdown of one type of rock or mineral can give rise to a host of other minerals through leeching or water, contact with air, or through evaporation. Groundwater interaction may also cause infiltration of certain minerals and replacement of others.
  • Metamorphic activity characterized by intense heat and pressure caused by magma and large scale earth movements, resulting in one mineral "morphing" into a new species.
  • Hydrothermal activity which is defined by super heated water with dissolved minerals inhabiting cracks and fissures within the existing rock and creating new minerals. Igneous activity and mineral formation from the magma of external volcanoes as well as internal igneous activity several miles deep within the earth's surface.

More Mineral Information:

While these are not the only means by which minerals are formed, they are the major modes of mineralization here on earth. For further and more in depth discussion, articles and web sites can be found at:

For the layperson, this rocks and minerals site from the US government is fairly comprehensive and offers pictures, information, career information, and classroom resources.
Information about the growth and formation of minerals can be found at:
A wonderful site from the USGS concerning the mineral industry.
The Mineral Information Institute in Colorado offers a wealth of information regarding mineral uses.

Mineral Terms:

While it is frequently heard in conversations and informal discussions, gemstones are often classified incorrectly by the terms "precious gemstone" or "semi-precious gemstones". According to the GIA, the Gemological Institutue of America, these terms are misnomers and only serve to create confusion within the gem and jewelry industry and have no real meaning. Plum Island Silver Company would like to offer a more realistic system for one to discover information concerning minerals, simply based on an alphabetized list, which will also include such information as their commonly available colors, degree of transparency, and other physical attributes.

Resources Cited

Resources used in crafting this page include but are not limited to: