White or Colourless GemstonesJune 15, 2018
Where gemstones are concerned Colour is King but what of the white or colourless gems? Should they be discounted or overlooked simply because they lack colour? Certainly not, since one of ‘the big 4’ top drawer gemstones is the the White (Colourless) Diamond and therefore the perfect example of the stunning beauty of a gemstone of no colour whose exceptional brilliance and fire, along with its outstanding hardness – 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness – more than make up for its lack of colour. In fact, this combination of fire and brilliance is simply missing in coloured gemstones of any variety.
So, if you’re of a mind to add White or Colourless gems to your collection or jewellery wardrobe but are unfamiliar with them no worries because there are several excellent gem types to choose from.
Well-known White or Colourless gemstones
If a Diamond simply isn’t cost-effective or even practical, your next best choice is the White Sapphire whose hardness rating is just slightly lower than that of a diamond at a 9, making it immensely suitable for daily wear in any type of jewellery. The White Sapphire is also the most popular colourless gemstone and while it does not have the same fire and brilliance as the White or Colourless Diamond, it is often the gem of choice as melee, the very small stones used as accents in many jewellery designs. And in terms of price small White Sapphires are very affordable though large, untreated stones with superior clarity can command high prices.
You’re next best choice of an affordable yet stunning white gemstone is the White Zircon whose brilliance makes it a popular substitute for a White Diamond. That brilliance in fact makes the White Zircon the best possible alternative for a diamond. It is, however, considerably softer than either the White Diamond or the White Sapphire – about 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale – but its fire and high refractive index, compared to that of the White Sapphire make it a very desirable stone, if you can find it.
Your third choice, also at a 7 on the Mohs Scale, could be the White Quartz, AKA rock crystal. But this gemstone lacks the fire and dispersion of both the White Diamond and the White Sapphire and therefore is unsuitable as a diamond substitute, though entirely suitable for most jewellery designs including rings because it is durable and extremely affordable due to its abundance.
Your fourth choice could be the extremely abundant White Topaz that it is often irradiated (heated) to produce Blue Topaz. At an 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness it is slightly harder than the White Quartz making it more resistant to scratches though not necessarily more durable. In terms of brilliance, however, the White Topaz is superior to that of the White Quartz making it a better alternative for a White Diamond than the White Quartz.
Lesser known White or Colourless Gemstones
Unless you’re a gem collector or very knowledgable about the Gem World, you most likely will not know the lesser-known White or Colourless gems because they are generally unknown to most average consumers. I’m certain, however, that you are familiar with the Beryl family of Gems that includes the magnificent Emerald and its equally beautiful sister, the Aquamarine. But, did you know that there is also a colourless Beryl, known in the jewellery trade as a Goshenite? LIke the sapphire, the Goshenite has an excellent hardness but it is not an ideal diamond substitute because it lacks the brilliance of the White Sapphire and the White Zircon but nonetheless its excellent transparency makes it suitable for all types of jewellery.
And because it lacks colouring agents and impurities, the Goshenite represents purity and because of that purity, it has been named “The Mother of Gemstones” and the “Stone of Wisdom”. It is is also a natural stone never treated or enhanced and is sometimes confused with White Quartz, White Zircon, White Topaz, and White Sapphire and once, because of its excellent transparency, Goshenite was used in the manufacture of eye glasses.
The second lesser-known white or colourless gemstone, is the Danburite, also 7 to 7.5 hardness with excellent transparency and clarity and a brilliance that can rival that of the finest topaz and because of its brilliance, a well-cut Danburite is often used in place of a White or Colourless Diamond or White Sapphire. Though it is similar in chemical composition and shared characteristics to the White Zircon, White Quartz, White Topaz, White Sapphire, Goshenite (White Beryl), the Danburite has no known closely related gemstone family members and there are no known synthetics or imitations available in the market.
It too is a natural stone requiring no treatment or enhancements of any kind or type and while it comes in other colours – very light pink and light yellow to brown – only the colourless Danburite is faceted as a gemstone.
The third lesser-known rare colourless gemstone is the Petalite whose perfect cleavage mimics the veins and junctions of a leaf making it an extraordinarily beautiful leaf-like gem with a fabulous lustre and exceptional sparkle. It too is a natural stone that needs no enhancements or treatments but having a hardness of 6 to 6.5 it is brittle so extreme care should be taken if it’s set in a ring. It was first discovered in Sweden in the 18th Century and is sometimes called the “Stone of the Angels”.
But being extremely rare, the Petalite, AKA, the Castorite, is most definitely a collector’s stone and a real favourite with collectors all over the world.
There may well be other colourless or white gemstones that I know nothing about or have ever heard of so, if you’re interested to learn more or perhaps add some white or colourless gems to your collection, you really should call Monika at LL Private Jewellers because her knowledge of gemstones is unsurpassed.
For more information about colourless or white gemstones please contact LL Private Jewellers at : 604-684-6343.