While gray as a color may easily go unnoticed, gray gemstones, on the other hand, tend to attract attention. Most gray gemstones are rare and their cool, neutral and aesthetically pleasing color is the reason they’re becoming extremely popular for jewelry. In this article, we’ll be taking a close look at 8 of the most popular gray gemstones used in jewelry.
Gray labradorite ring by Peacock Jewels Arts. See it here.
While labradorite comes in a range of shades, it’s most common color is gray. Labradorite gemstones are feldspar minerals that emit brilliant color flashes called labradorescence or iridescence. This is caused by the internal structure, known as lamellar twinning, which causes layering during formation.
When light travels through these layers at varying speeds, it retracts and comes out in different wavelengths. The result? The unique sheen and colors seen on the surface of labradorite.
However, the internal layers in labradorite make them vulnerable to breakages if the stone is dealt a hard blow. Due to this, labradorite is better suited for earrings and pendants, rather than rings or bracelets, which are more exposed. On the Mohs scale, labradorite ranks 6-6.5, which is relatively soft for daily wear and tear.
Labradorite rocks are usually found in large sizes and are typically cut into cabochons and beads. However, when faceted, it has a beautiful textural look. This stone is best suited for casual, bohemian styles of jewelry but if crafted expertly, labradorite can also make for stunning fine jewelry.
Labradorite was named after the city of Labrador, Canada, where it was first found. It’s also found in several other cities and countries including Newfoundland (Canada), Ukraine, Madagascar, Finland and Australia. It also occurs in several U.S. states such as Nevada, Utah, California, New York, Texas and Oregon.
Fancy gray diamond. See it here.
While colorless diamonds are the most sought after, gray diamonds are becoming increasingly known. Gray diamonds get their color from high hydrogen concentrations within them, but they can also sometimes have traces of boron.
Gray diamonds are known by several names including charcoal gray, slate, steel and pigeon. They look like white stones with a metallic or light blue tint and are available in various grayish hues. These stones are graded into the following intensity levels:
- Very light
- Fancy light
- Fancy deep
- Fancy dark
Gray diamonds can be cut into various shapes and cuts including the pear shape, cushion, emerald, classic round, radiant and oval. These cuts maximize color saturation. Stones with little to no inclusions are more valuable and sought after, but sometimes rarer stones can command high prices even if they have lower clarity. This stone is an excellent example. It exhibits many scratches and inclusions across its surface, but is priced at over $30,000.
Gray diamonds occur in Brazil, Australia, Russia, and South Africa. Due to their rarity, they’re quite expensive and can be used for unique and customized jewelry.
Silky gray moonstone pendant by Stone Nest. See it here.
Moonstone is known for its unique, shimmery appearance and delicate colors. However, while white or milky moonstone is the most common, the stone also comes in gray hues.
Gray moonstone comprises a mixture of albite and orthoclase feldspar minerals. These stones are made of alternating layers. As light falls between the layers and then scatters in various directions, it produces the adularescence phenomenon.
This phenomenon is what gives the gemstones their glow and shimmer. The name moonstone arises from the way the light floats within it. This is similar to how the moon shines when it’s thinly veiled by clouds. Gray moonstones generally have good clarity and they vary from transparent to translucent. Most gray moonstones have very few inclusions within them, like hairline cracks.
Gray moonstones are typically cut en cabochon to enhance the sheen on the surface. However, it can also be faceted.
These unique gemstones occur in many countries around the globe including Sri Lanka, Poland, Armenia, Norway, Madagascar, Australia, USA, Myanmar, Mexico, Austrian Alps and India.
Sterling silver gray quartz ring by Decatur Coin N Jewelry. See it here.
Also called smoky quartz, gray quartz gets its color from the holes created in its interior by the presence of aluminum impurities. The color of smoky quartz varies from a grayish brown to a deep black.
In terms of clarity, gray quartz can be opaque though it mostly ranges from transparent to translucent. The translucency is also caused by natural irradiation when traces of aluminum work on the crystal structure.
Gray quartz is a fairly durable gemstone with a hardness of 7 on the Mohs’ scale, making it suitable for various types of jewelry. In its rough form, it looks like long, pointed crystals which are shaped like hexagons when sliced. Its unique color and brilliant polish are what make it a much sought after gemstone and it’s also extremely affordable compared to most other gray gemstones.
Most deposits of gray quartz are found in Brazil, USA (Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire) Madagascar, South Africa, China, Mozambique and Scotland.
Gray agate pendants by Bon Bon Stones. See them here.
Gray agate is a beautiful gemstone that exhibits streaks or patterns of white, light gray and pink. It’s a common rock formation, made of chalcedony and quartz, and typically has a vitreous luster. Gray agate is found in volcanic regions such as Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, USA, and Germany.
Gray agate is a relatively soft stone with a score of 6-7 on Mohs’ scale of hardness. It’s best to place agate in protective settings, as the stone can easily scratch and damage if exposed to wear and tear. Because gray agate is an inexpensive gemstone, it’s used in a variety of ways, including to make decorative items such as coasters. Gray agate is typically used in rustic, bohemian jewelry designs.
Gray Tahitian pearl necklace by Soul Star Meditation. See it here.
Although Tahitian pearls are considered black, these valuable, unique and exotic stones are typically gray in color. What gives them their color is the lustrous overtones found on more expensive stones. Tahitian pearls are soft with a hardness of 2.5 -4 on Mohs scale, which means they’re not ideal for daily wear if not set in protective settings.
Tahitian pearls were named after the island of Tahiti since it’s the business center for most of the pearl trading and not because they’re farmed there. These pearls are also farmed in the tropical lagoons of French Polynesia, Gambier Islands, Micronesia Islands, Vietnam, Australia, and Seychelles.
Grey tourmaline and diamond ring by Stones and Gold. See it here.
Tourmaline comes in many colors with gray being one of the most common. Its name is derived from a Sinhalese term turamali, which means mixed-colored stones.
Gray tourmaline has good clarity which means it has fer to no inclusions. It’s a durable gemstone which can be cut into various shapes and styles. With a 7-7.5 hardness variation on Mohs scale, no cleavage and negligible brittleness, gray tourmaline is a perfect choice for daily wear.
Gray tourmaline deposits are present in many countries worldwide including Russia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Gray chalcedony bracelet by Moonstone and Sage Co. See it here.
This gemstone borrows its name from Chalcedon in ancient Byzantine, which we now know as Turkey. It’s a microcrystalline stone is composed of silica and has fine intergrowths of moganite and quartz.
Gray chalcedony is a smooth and tough stone with a rating of 6.5-7 hardness on the Mohs scale, which makes it a good choice for jewelry making. It has no cleavage (the tendency to crack along definite plane surfaces) which means that it’s less prone to breaking or fracturing. The luster of this stone is dull and ranges from semi-transparent to translucent.
This gemstone is found in abundance in many countries worldwide. However, its main sources are Russia, Brazil, Morocco, USA, Mexico, Poland, New Zealand, Namibia, India and Turkey.
Gray gemstones are appealing because of their subtle yet unique look. They’re an excellent choice for jewelry as they’re neutral in color and tend to suit most fashion senses. Because they range in budget, value and styles, there’s a gray gemstone out there for everyone.