Gem and Mineral Identification

Welcome to the Direct From the Mines Gem and Mineral Identification Page. If you have purchased a gem or mineral specimen we invite you to use the information below to identify your purchase now or in the future. We are currently updating this section to include all 70 gems and minerals in our tumbled gemstone section.

Abalone Shell has been used for jewelry and ornaments for centuries due to its intense, neon blue and green colors. The abalone is a member of the clam family and is found around the world. It is used both for jewelry from its colorful shell and for food as a delicacy in many restaurants. The popularity of this special sea creature has led to its over-fishing and is now a protected species in many countries. Our abalone shells were obtained prior to the protection efforts.

Amethyst is one of the most famous gemstone members of the quartz family. The crystals are found in pegmatite dikes where mineral rich hot water has invaded existing rock and cooled slowly, allowing large crystals to form. Amethyst is known for its depth of color and because large gemstones can be cut from the crystals that are still very affordable. The most beautiful amethyst comes from the country of Brazil.

Aventurine is an unusual member of the quartz chalcedony family that has a unique “flash” effect property due to platelets of minerals, usually iron, inside the crystal. Aventurine is normally opaque to semi-translucent, but the most important feature is the sparkle or flash effect that it presents due to the metallic inclusions throughout the gemstone.

Chrysocolla is found close to copper mines as it is formed from the breakdown of copper by water. It is often mistaken for turquoise but is much harder than turquoise and usually of a slightly different color tone and pattern. Chrysocolla has been used for ornamental jewelry and carvings for many centuries and can be found in several countries that produce copper including Zaire, Mexico and the US State of Arizona.

Citrine is one of the most famous gemstone members of the quartz family, and a sister gemstone to amethyst. The crystals are found in pegmatite dikes where mineral rich hot water has invaded existing rock and cooled slowly, allowing large crystals to form. Citrine is known for its wide variety of intense yellow to Madeira colors. The most popular source of citrine is the country of Brazil.

Emerald is a member of the beryl family that includes aquamarine, morganite and heliodor. The finest emeralds are known to come from the South American country of Colombia, but Brazil, Zambia and many others produce beautiful emeralds. Your emerald from Cheetahlish is from Brazil.

Fluorite. Although it is fairly soft, fluorite has been used for centuries for jewelry because of its unique color combinations. The green and purple colors that dominate fluorite are unique in the gemstone world. There is a very fine quality fluorite found in the United Kingdom called “bluejohn” that is unlike any other fluorite in the world, and has been used for jewelry since the early days of the British Empire.

India Sunstone is often mistaken for Oregon Sunstone but is a very different gemstone. While both a members of the feldspar family, the Oregon sunstone is colored by impurities of copper while India Sunstone is colored by impurities of iron, which you can see as golden sparkles throughout the gemstone. There are several varieties of India Sunstone and, of course, all come from India.

Labradorite is named for the location where it was first found, Labrador in Canada. This is a member of the feldspar mineral family. The amazing part of this feldspar family member is that it shows a phenomena called labradorescence. Labradorescence appears as a sheen of blue or yellow colors that show on the surface when the light hits the stone just right, making it appear that there is a sheen of colors often described as looking like an oil slick on still water.

Lace Agate is a very unique member of the chalcedony quartz family that is a truly unique gemstone, The “lace” effect is due to this gemstone forming in layers of greater and lesser color intensity, with the final gemstone looking very much like a piece of blue lace. It is often used for jewelry of all types, and makes beautiful carvings and artwork.

Lapis Lazuli is actually a rock composed of lazurite, pyrite and calcite. The blue color comes from the dominant mineral of lazurite. Lapis Lazuli has been used for centuries as the source of the deep blue color in paintings by many of the famous artists. It has also been used as a writing instrument and for ornaments and jewelry items. This Lapis Lazuli piece is from the world’s finest source in the country of Afghanistan.

Nephrite jade is quite different from the other jade gemstone known as “jadeite”. The finest nephrite jade is found in Canada in a huge area where the gem material cooled from volcanic intrusions. Nephrite is usually dark green in color with black mottling throughout the gemstone. Nephrite jade is extremely tough and long wearing and makes excellent jewelry pieces as well as beautiful carvings and artwork.

Obsidian is natural volcanic glass. When silicon rich lava is thrown out the top of a volcano it cools quickly forming this natural black glass called “Obsidian”. Because it is much harder than steel, the Native Americans prized obsidian for cutting tools and weapons. Today, surgical tools are being made from obsidian since it can be made sharper than a surgeon’s stainless-steel scalpel.

Picture Jasper is a member of the chalcedony family, a part of the huge Quartz Family of gemstones. The formation occurs as layers of dark brown to light tan colors that create what early traders believed to look like pictures etched into the stone. Due to this unique layering of colors, every Picture Jasper is unique. Use your imagination to see what wonderful pictures you can see in your picture jasper.

Tiger Eye is a unique member of the quartz family of gemstones. The formation is made of a mass of tiny crystals too small to see with the unaided eye so it fits into the category of “chalcedony quartz.” Tiger Eye is famous for its golden brown color bands that were thought in ancient times to appear like the eye of a tiger when viewed in certain directions. Our Tiger Eye is from the country of South Africa.