Gemstones are prized for their brilliance and colour. They signify traits like love, courage, healing or resilience. Some believe in the magical properties of certain gemstones and choose accordingly, while others may pick a stone because it’s the colour of their eyes. Whether you’re gifting yourself an exquisite opal cocktail ring because it’s your birthstone or you’re giving a graduate sapphire cufflinks to signify wisdom and enlightenment, gemstone shopping is extra-fun when you know what to look for.
How to Choose a Gemstone
Roughly 200 different known gemstones grace the planet today—including precious and semi-precious varieties—and they all have different characteristics.
COLOURThe colour of a gemstone is its most defining and memorable feature—and for many, it’s the most important factor in choosing a gem. In general, the more saturated a gemstone, the more valuable it is. But for most people, buying gemstones isn’t about picking the most “valuable,” but rather choosing a gemstone in a colour they really, really love.
CUTThe cut of a gemstone refers to the facet arrangement, proportions, and, often, the shape of the gem. Gemstones are cut in a way that best displays or accentuates their colour, sparkle and brilliance.
CLARITYGemstone clarity refers to how many—if any—inclusions are present in the stone. Inclusions are things like gas bubbles, fractures and crystals that became one with the stone as it was being formed. Almost every gemstone has them. In general, gemstones with fewer inclusions are more valuable, but in many cases, a moderate number of inclusions contribute to the appeal of a gemstone and take away none of its beauty.
SIZEGemstone size is typically measured in millimeters in diameter, which gives you a more accurate representation of its size. These dimensions show how much of the stone is visible in its setting. We provide measurements for every one of our brilliant gemstones to help you envision exactly how it will look in your chosen setting.
ENHANCEMENTSEnhancements are a collection of techniques, including infusions and heat treatments, that improve a gemstone’s appearance, value, and in some cases, its durability. But treatments don’t mean your gemstone is less-than-real or has less value. In fact, almost all coloured gemstones on the market today are enhanced—untreated coloured gemstones are very rare.
Your Essential Gemstone Guide
So many gemstones, so little time. If you love them all and can’t possibly choose a favourite, consider the many special meanings behind each gemstone — including these fascinating bits of lore and legend.
The Stone of Romance and Royalty
September’s birthstone, the sapphire, is one of the world's most historically coveted gemstones. Sapphires were worn by royalty in ancient Rome and famously given to Princess Diana as an engagement ring from Prince Charles. They’re believed to bring good luck and fortune, so it’s no wonder that giving a sapphire is a gesture of romance and love. Explore sapphires and their range of stunning deep blue colours that delight the eye.
Hope and New Beginnings
Most favored for its vibrant green hues, ranging from yellow-green to blue-green, emeralds were first mined in Egypt in 330 BCE and worn by the enchanting Cleopatra. Emerald is the birthstone for May and is a symbol of renewed spring growth. Explore emeralds their storied history, and the mesmerizing green colour that sparkles as pendants, earrings and rings.
The Captivating Queen of Gems
A spectacular, deep red stone, the ruby has always captured the human imagination. This gemstone was believed to make ancient warriors invincible and conveyed a status of power and wealth. The ruby is the birthstone for July and makes a decadent style statement when you adorn yourself in bold, red gemstone jewellery. Explore the dramatic elegance of rubies.
The Legendary Purple Gem
The amethyst is a purple-hued member of the glittery and glamorous quartz family. The birthstone for February, it’s associated with healing and spirituality. The ancient Egyptians thought amethysts offered protection from harm, while the ancient Greeks associated the stone with the god of wine because of its purple colour. Explore amethysts their use in fine jewellery today.
Clear, Brilliant Colour
As a symbol of great power, blue topaz was believed to bestow strength and long life. Topaz comes in a variety of colours, including pink, orange and yellow, but the most common is its signature blue. Topaz is one of the gemstones often found with exquisite clarity, making it sparkle like starlight in drop earrings, rings and solitaire pendants. Explore topaz, the birthstone of December.
The Ocean Captured in a Stone
Named after the Latin word for "sea water," the aquamarine is known for its varying blue colours. In Medieval times, it was thought to have healing powers and other magical properties. Today, aquamarine is used to reduce stress in crystal healing and is the birthstone for March. Explore aquamarine with their beautiful watercolor-blue tones that look incredible in both contemporary and vintage-inspired settings.
Modern Gemstone, Timeless Appeal
Morganite is a more recent addition to the world of gemstones. It was discovered in 1910 in Madagascar and named after gem connoisseur John Pierpont Morgan. This alluring pink stone comes in a range of shades and has become increasingly popular in recent years with wearers who love to show off its gleaming sparkle and flair. Explore morganite and its breath-taking pink shades.
The Gem That Shines in Every Colour
The October birthstone, opal is admired by cultures all around the world. Greek legend has it that opals protected against disease, while Arabic lore claimed it came from the heavens through lightning. Opals come in many different ranges of transparency and colour, creating its unforgettable shimmer. Explore opals through their use in extraordinary jewellery.
The Modern Blue Wonder
Tanzanite is another fairly new gemstone, discovered in Tanzania in the ‘60s. It quickly grew in popularity, thanks to its brilliant blue and violet shades. Jewellery designers and fashionable customers alike fell in love with this gem's striking appearance. The rich tones are the result of heat treatment, with larger stones typically showing deeper colour. Explore tanzanite, the dazzling gemstone newcomer.
A Mesmerizing Play of Light and Colour
It’s easy to see how the moonstone got its name. In a phenomenon known as adularescence, the surface of the stone glows brilliantly like the surface of a full moon. This shimmering gemstone is one of the birthstones for the month of June, and its lustrous beauty lends itself to exquisite rings, pendants and bracelets. Explore the ethereal radiance of moonstone.
The Ravishing Green Beauty
Peridot is another gemstone with deep roots in ancient Egypt. When set in gold, it was believed to protect the wearer from nightmares and evil spirits. Today, this lust-worthy translucent, green gem is known as one of the August birthstones, and it makes a big splash in bracelets and earrings. Explore the alluring range of green colours of peridot.
Diversity in Rich Colour
In ancient times, garnets were used for a variety of purposes, including signet rings, tomb decorations, and necklaces for pharaohs. The January birthstone, garnet gemstones come in a wide range of red shades like deep crimson and bold scarlet. Explore garnet's rich history in striking jewellery pieces.
How to Care for Your Gemstone Jewellery
Shop Jewellery Cleaning and Care Products
- With the right care, your gemstone jewellery will last lifetimes.
- Carefully clean your jewellery with a mild soap, super-soft toothbrush, and warm water.
- Store your jewels separately in pouches, and tuck them away in your jewellery box.
- Wear your jewellery with care, especially if it’s prone to chipping or cracking.
- Periodically, check all of your jewellery for weakened strings, loose settings and stone or metal damage.
- We offer free cleaning and repair services for all of our gemstone jewellery.
Explore Gemstone Education by Category
Gemstone Buying Guide
Pearl Buying Guide
Care and Cleaning
Diamond Education and Guidance
Only at Blue Nile
When it comes to celebrations we strive to make your experience as brilliant as our jewellery with the perfect pieces for every occasion.
Visit a Showroom
Meet our personal jewellers, explore bestselling styles, pick up an online order, arrange to preview something from our online collection and so much more.
Schedule an Appointment
Book a fun and interactive appointment with a diamond expert and get up-close views of diamond and jewellery options from the comfort of your own home.
The highest-quality design at a great price.
Peace of Mind
30-day returns, diamond price-match guarantee and more.
The original online jeweller since 1999.
The perfect pieces for every occasion.