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Crystals, Gemstones, Minerals
Extract from 'Crystals, Gemstones, Minerals', the exclusive Living Designs introductory guide with brief information about the 'geology' of many varieties.
(c)Living Designs 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005,2010
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The number after the name is the approximate hardness of the stone on Mohs scale from 0 (softest) to 10 (hardest). For comparison your fingernail is about 2.5 on the scale!

ABALONE a mollusc (source of Mother of Pearl) with a sheen on the inside of the shell.
ACTINOLITE 5 A green silicate with magnesium, iron etc forming radiating crystals (name is Greek for ray stone)
AGATE 7 a variety of Chalcedony (quartz family) found in a huge range of colours. It is quite porous and therefore dyed specimens are common. Many different Agates including Moss Agate (with flecks of oxides), Dendritic (fern like markings), Onyx and others.
ALBITE 6 an Aluminium silicate.
ALEXANDRITE 8 of the Chrysoberyl family. Appears to change colour in different lighting (also sometimes at different angles of view) - reddish in candlelight and blue-green in fluorescent. Effect caused by chromium content. Named after Czar Alexander.
ALMANDINE 7 or Almandite, a red-orange Garnet
AMAZONITE 6.5 also called Amazon Stone, green-blue Feldspar variety named after the Amazon river.
AMBER 2.5 a fossilised tree resin that comes in many colours - usually gold but also blue black etc. Flammable and produces static electricity when rubbed. Greek for amber=electron=electricity!
AMETHYST 7 a quartz variety, usually purple but also in green, milky and other hues. Amethyst is Greek for sober (they believed it prevented drunkenness) AMETRINE 7 a mixture of Citrine and Amethyst (Quartz family).
AMMONITE 4 (or Ammolite) a fossilised shell, greyish base with multicoloured flashes.
ANDALUSITE 6.5 named after Andalucia, Spain where first found. An Aluminium silicate in various colours.
ANDRADITE 7 a Garnet variety in various colours, yellow-green or brown-black.
ANGELITE 3.5 Lilac-blue Anhydrite (calcium sulphate)
ANGLESITE 2.5 A rare lead sulphate
ANHYDRITE 3.5 a calcium sulphate usually white/grey. Lilac blue variety is called Angelite
ANTIMONY 3 An element rarely found alone, usually part of other minerals. Similar to Arsenic.
APACHE TEARS 5 an Obsidian (volcanic glass), usually black but also brown (Mahogany), green etc.
APATITE 5 a calcium phosphate. In yellow, blue green, light purple etc. Was often mistaken for other stones and name is from Greek for deceit.
APOPHYLLITE 5 a white, red or green-violet silicate, semi transparent. From the Greek word meaning ‘flaking’ (it can split in a flame)
AQUA AURA is artificial, made by a process which coats quartz with metal (often gold), leaving a very thin layer and creating a colourful effect.
AQUAMARINE 8 Beryl family light blue/green from iron content
ARAGONITE 4 a calcium carbonate which can come in many colours - red, blue, green, white, clear etc. Named after Aragon (Spain)).
ASTROPHYLLITE 3 rare silicate containing Titanium, Potassium, Manganese, Sodium and Iron! Colour usually yellow-brown.
AUGELITE 5 transparent-yellow from Aluminium content.
AVENTURINE 7 Quartz family (with Fuchsite/Haematite) usually green and with a shimmer caused the mini metallic particles. Copies are common.
AZURITE 3.5 a copper carbonate with colour from deep to pale blue.
BARITE 3.5 (Baryte) Barium sulphate, pale but often tinted with other colours. Very similar to Celestite.
BENITOITE 6 usually blue/transparent depending on angle of view. Official gemstone of California (discovered there). Benito is Blessed in Spanish.
BERYL a family which includes emerald and aquamarine. Different colours from iron (yellow), manganese (red) etc content.
BISMUTH 3 An element rarely found alone, usually part of other minerals. Arsenic group.
BIXBYITE 6.5 (Bixbite) rare black mineral with manganese and iron with usually small crystals.
BLOODSTONE 6.5 (also called Heliotrope) a variety of Chalcedony (quartz family). Green with red marks caused by iron oxides
BLUE JOHN 4 a type of Fluorite, blue-white-yellow correctly found only in Derbyshire, England.
BORNITE proper name for Peacock Ore
BOWENITE 4 a type of Serpentine.
BRAZILIANITE 5.5 yellow-green unusual and new mineral. Discovered in Brazil.
CALCITE 3 a calcium carbonate in yellow, green, pink, blue and other colours.
CARNELIAN 7 (or Cornelian) a red/orange Chalcedony (quartz family) with iron content
CASSITERITE 6.5 tin oxide, the major ore of tin. Black, red-brown or yellow.
CAT'S EYE 8.5 a green/yellow chrysoberyl with an area that looks like an eye. Mostly from Brazil.
CAVANSITE 3.5 rare, recently found silicate in shades of blue.
CELESTITE 3.5 a sulphate similar to Gypsum and Calcite. Colours include clear, white, blue, yellow, red
CERUSSITE 3.5 white lead ore in various colours often white/clear
CHALCEDONY a large quartz family. Chalcedony is usually blue and other family members include agate, carnelian, bloodstone, jasper, seftonite, chrysoprase, onyx and others.
CHALCOPYRITE 4 is Copper pyrites usually deeper colour than pyrite
CHAROITE 5 purple coloured, scarce and normally only from Russia (Chary river area hence the name)
CHIASTOLITE 7.5 chemically similar to Andalusite, often forms cross shapes within other crystals. Usually yellow-brown
CHLORITE 2.5 a silicate with iron, magnesium and aluminium usually green but also other colours. Sometimes found as a ‘phantom’ in quartz etc where a Chlorite crystal formed around the quartz at an early stage and the quartz then grew around it thus displaying an inner ‘crystal’ which is often indistinct hence ‘phantom’.
CHRYSOBERYL 8 a family including Alexandrite and Cats Eye
CHRYSOCOLLA 2-4 Blue-green copper silicate. Used for ornament from ancient times (name is Greek for gold lime)
CHRYSOLITE sometimes an alternative name for Chrysoberyl or peridot
CHRYSOTILE 3 A silicate similar to Serpentine
CHRYSOPRASE 7 a rarer variety of Chalcedony (quartz family). Apple green colour from nickel content.
CINNABAR 2.5 Red colour Mercury Sulphide (poisonous). A soft stone therefore often used for carving.
CITRINE 7 a yellow/orange colour quartz. Rare and therefore sometimes made by heat treating Amethyst.
COLEMANITE 4.5 clear/white carbonate
COPPER 3 a soft metal element easily worked and much used for jewellery and other purposes. Brass is zinc/copper and bronze tin/copper alloys.
CORAL 3.5 calcium carbonate structures made by polyps in the ocean. Often imitated.
CORDIERITE 7 blue-green-grey silicate. Colour can change with viewing angle. Varieties include Iolite.
CORUNDUM 9 Ruby and Sapphire are varieties (colours vary with presence of metallic oxides). Very hard (exceeded only by diamond). Emery (abrasive) is another form.
CROCOITE 3 a rare salmon coloured (from lead content and poisonous) chromate with spiky crystals primarily found only in Tasmania.
CUPRITE 4 red oxide of Copper
DANBURITE 7.5 a hard silicate clear to white/yellow similar to Topaz
DESERT ROSE 2 a gypsum found in desert areas where grains of sand became included with the gypsum when forming. Red coloured (by iron content) Barite flower-shaped crystals also called Desert Rose.
DIAMOND 10 the hardest stone, made of highly compressed carbon. Much imitated because of it’s value.
DEMANTOID 7 variety of Andradite (Garnet) usually green.
DICHROITE 7 a cordierite variety, yellow to dark blue.
DIOPSIDE 6.5 magnesium silicate with many varieties, usually green
DIOPTASE 5 green silicate, mainly copper oxide. Related to Chrysocolla.
DOLOMITE 4 white to brown carbonate, similar composition to calcite/Magnesite.
DRAVITE 7 Tourmaline variety, with magnesium content.
DUMORTIERITE 7 blue-white, often needle like crystals. Quite scarce.
DUNDASITE 2 rare white lead aluminium carbonate from and named after Dundas mine in Tasmania.
EILAT STONE a true Eilat (Eliat, Elat or Ellat) Stone comes only from King Solomon's Mines at Eilat (Israel) near the Red Sea. It is usually greenish and composed of Chrysocolla, malachite, turquoise and azurite.
EMERALD 8 a green, hard precious stone from the Beryl family. Many are enhanced and synthetic versions are common.
EPIDOTE 6.5 silicate with aluminium and iron. Nice green coloured crystals
ERYTHRITE 2 pink to red-purple soft phosphate, colour from cobalt.
EUDIALITE 5 (or Eudialyte) a silicate often in bright colours including reds, blues and yellows. Russia is main source.
FELDSPAR a mineral family including Moonstone, Labradorite and Amazonite.
FLINT a type of chalcedony occurring in chalk deposits.
FLUORITE 4 a calcium fluoride also called Fluorspar in a variety of colours including yellow, green and pink.
FOOLS FOLD 6.5 is Pyrite (a form of iron)
FOSSILISED WOOD see Petrified Wood
FRANKLINITE 6 black mineral with zinc and manganese. Named after Franklin, New Jersey USA where found.
FRESHWATER PEARL less valuable than oyster pearls and found in freshwater mussels.
FUCHSITE 2.5 a soft stone, dark green variety of muscovite with chromium
GAGATE another name for Jet (fossilised coal)
GALENA 2.5 lead ore. Deposits usually contain silver.
GARNET 7 a Silicate family with many varieties including Grossular, Almandine, Pyrope, Spessartine, Tsavorite, Uvarovite, Rhodolite and others. Garnets can be found in virtually every colour except blue.
GASPEITE 5 light green from magnesium content
GOETHITE 5 iron oxide yellow, brown or red-black, sometimes with a multicolour sheen.
GOLD 3 a precious metal which is very malleable when pure (24 Karat). Usually mixed (alloyed) with silver or copper for less expensive 9, 12, 14, 18 Karat Gold.
GOSHENITE 7.5 a transparent form of Beryl named after Goshen (USA) where first found.
GROSSULAR GARNET 7 a type of Garnet with several varieties inc Hessonite (Brown to Yellow transparent), Jacinth (yellow) and others in various colours.
GRAPHITE 1.5 carbon, one of the softest minerals but same chemistry as diamond, the hardest—structure is very different.
GYPSUM 2 a calcium sulphate. Varieties include Selenite (from Greek=‘moon rock’), Satinspar and Alabaster (as used for carvings).
HAEMATITE 6.5 (or Hematite) an iron oxide black to blue-grey. once used in Ancient Egypt to make scarabs.
HALITE 2 sodium chloride or ‘Rock Salt’ usually clear or white but also blues, pinks, purples etc
HAWKS EYE 7 a blue-green quartz with reflections like birds eye
HELIODOR 7.5 a yellow/gold beryl
HELIOTROPE see Bloodstone
HEMATINE artificial copy of Haematite
HEMIMORPHITE 3.5 Zinc silicate usually banded white-blue.
HERKIMER DIAMOND 7 clear lustrous quartz crystals found in Herkimer (New York, USA)
HESSONITE 7 a yellow-red/brown Garnet
HEULANDITE 3.5 an aluminium silicate, one of the most common Zeolites
HICKORYITE a stone correctly found only in Mexico or California. Used to make spiritual objects
HIDDENITE 6.5 variety of Spodumene with a green hue.
HORNBLENDE 5 A silicate family with magnesium and iron.
HOWLITE a soft, easily dyed calcium silicate (often dyed to imitate Turquoise)
HYACINTH 7.5 is a name used for a Zircon variety and sometimes other stones.
IOLITE transparent mineral, Cordierite variety, often displaying a variety of colours from light blue to yellow.
JADE can be either of Jadeite (harder), usually preferred for jewellery) or Nephrite (softer), sometimes called Greenstone, preferred for decorative carvings). Jade is often green but also white, brown, black etc. It is often imitated.
JADEITE 6.5 a Jade variety in many colours
JASPER 7 a Chalcedony (quartz family) found in almost every colour.
JET (Gagate) black fossilised coal
KUNZITE 7 variety of Spodumene with a pink hue.
KYANITE 4 blue, green, light grey stone splits into narrow pieces as it is more fragile on one axis.
LABRADORITE 6 a feldspar variety which shows inner blue, green or red ‘lights’ after polishing.
LAPIS LAZULI 5.5 blue stone with inclusions (pyrite etc) used for decorative purposes from ancient times. Often enhanced to improve the colour (dyed then waxed).
LARIMAR 5 (or Lorimar) a light blue stone with streaks correctly found only in the Dominican Republic. Discovered there in last 20 years.
LAZULITE 6 a phosphate with magnesium, iron and aluminium, similar to Azurite and Lazurite in colour (dark to pale blues)
LAZURITE 5 a blue sulphate, major constituent of Lapis Lazuli. First mined in Afghanistan 4000BC.
LEOPARDSKIN JASPER 7 Rhyolite (usually yellowish) with glassy ‘speckles’.
LEPIDOLITE 3 a mica with lithium content. A soft stone.
LEUCITE 6 silicate with potassium and aluminium. Clear-white sometimes with colour tints.
LIMONITE 5 a mix of iron oxides, mainly Goethite. Colours vary yellow, red, brown, black.
LODESTONE 5.5 (Magnetite) a magnetic Iron ore used for the first compasses in ancient times by floating the stone in a bowl of water.
LORIMAR see Larimar
MAGNESITE 4.5 magnesium carbonate in Calcite family same crystal structure as Calcite.
MAGNETITE 5.5 (see Lodestone)
MALACHITE 4 a green porous stone of varying shades with high copper content. Colour often enhanced.
MARBLE a carbonate rock formed from pressurised limestone
MARCASITE 6 a form of pyrite, shiny, metallic and lighter than pyrite.
MEERSCHAUM 2 easily carved magnesium silicate. Used for pipes.
METEORITE literally from another world!
MICA mineral family including Lepidolite
MICROLITE 5.5 slightly radioactive oxide. The name means ‘small stone’.
MOISSANITE 9 very hard silicon carbide named after discoverer and Nobel Prize winner Dr Moissan. First examples found in meteorite fragments. Naturally has green colouring but can be grown synthetically as clear and often used as a diamond copy.
MOLDAVITE a dark green to grey rare tektite. Formed by impact of a huge meteorite (about 14 million years ago) in Moldavia which scattered fragments of molten material over a 200 mile area. Used since prehistory for ornament.
MOOKAITE 7 (or Moukaite) a Jasper (Chalcedony/Quartz) from Australia usually red-yellow.
MOONSTONE 6 Orthoclase (Feldspar family) lustrous with a bluish tint.
MORGANITE 7.5 Beryl variety, rare hard stone usually rose red/clear (colour from manganese and lithium content)
MOSS AGATE 7 an Agate (Chalcedony family) with a mossy look caused by inclusions of chlorites or iron oxides.
MOTHER OF PEARL A mollusc nacre with colour hues
MOUKAITE see Mookaite
MTOROLITE (or Mtorodite) A Chalcedony, green from chromium content.
MUSCOVITE 2.5 a mica in various colours and clear. Used originally for window glass. Named after Moscow.
NATROLITE 5 a sodium zeolite mineral clear or white, sometimes tinted with other colours.
NEPHRITE 6 An actinolite variety. One of two stones known as Jade (Jadeite is the other). Usually darker than Jadeite.
NEW JADE a name used for Serpentine and other usually green stones
OBSIDIAN volcanic glass, usually black - brown, resulting from rapid cooling of lava.
OLIVINE 7 family including Peridot
ONYX 7 a form of Agate with black and white layers. ‘Onyx’ with coloured banding is a different stone (a Calcite) sometimes called ‘Mexican Onyx’.
OPAL 6 an oxide (quartz family), luminous and often with inclusions (eg ‘Fire Opal’). Needs to be kept moist else cracking possible.
OPALITE a rock containing opal
ORBICULAR JASPER 7 Rhyolite (usually greenish) with chalcedony ‘patches’.
ORTHOCLASE 6 yellow/transparent feldspar
PAUA SHELL New Zealand abalone shell with fine blue-green colouring
PEACOCK ORE (Bornite) 3 a copper sulphide (nearly two thirds copper) which displays many bright colours on the surface.
PEARL 4 organic gem (mainly calcite) from oysters and other molluscs formed by secretions (nacre) surrounding a foreign object inside the shell. It can take about 8 years to form the final pearl. The largest (Pearl of Lao-Tse) weighed 6.4Kg (14 pounds) and was found in a giant clam.
PERIDOT 7 a green to yellow magnesium/iron silicate form of Olivine.
PETALITE 6 a silicate with aluminium and lithium
PETERSITE see Pietersite
PETRIFIED WOOD 7 (or fossilised wood) quartz which has replaced cellular contents of wood.
PHENACITE (Phenakite) 8 semi transparent quartz-like silicate in a variety of colours
PHILLIPSITE 4.5 a rare potassium-aluminium silicate often found in volcanic rock.
PIETERSITE (or Petersite) Quartz family blue to brown with coloured markings
PLATINUM 4.5 an element. Hard to find crystals—nuggets and grains more common.
PRASE 7 a Chalcedony , green from Chlorite content.
PREHNITE 6 an aluminium silicate, usually green like Smithsonite but not so shiny.
PSILOMELANE 5.5 a manganese ore, black to blue-grey
PURPURITE 4 a rare manganese phosphate with a unique purple colour
PYRITE 6 (Pyrites, Iron Pyrites, Fools Gold) is a metallic iron mineral. from ancient times used for amulets and also to start fires (sparks when struck)
PYROPE 7 dark red/purple garnet - the only Garnet that is always a reddish colour (magnesium content).
QUARTZ 7 one of the most common materials of the planet. A huge number of varieties
RAINBOW OBSIDIAN 5 is obsidian with tiny bubbles of trapped air giving a rainbow sheen.
RHODOCHROSITE 4 A manganese Carbonate mineral with colours varying from pink-red to yellow-brown. A soft stone.
RHODOLITE 7 purple-red Garnet, a mix of Pyrope and Almandine
RHODONITE 6 a silicate, pink coloured (from manganese content). The name is from the Greek Rhodon=Rose
RHYOLITE a volcanic rock (a mixture of mainly Quartz and Feldspar) with inclusions giving a patchy or speckled appearance. Leopardskin and Orbicular Jaspers are varieties.
ROSE QUARTZ 7 a pink-red quartz
RUBELLITE 7 a red Tourmaline
RUBY 9 Corundum family. Precious stone, very hard (just below diamond). Colours from deep red (colour from chromium content) to purple/brown. Artificial Rubies are common.
RUBY ZOISITE 6 red zoisite variety
RUTILATED QUARTZ 7 Clear Quartz with ‘hairs’ of rutile (titanium dioxide). Sometimes called ‘Venus Hair Stone’
RUTILE 6 a titanium ore which can appear in strands in Quartz and other stones (making them ‘Rutilated’).
SAPONITE see Soapstone
SAPPHIRE 9 a Corundum (like Ruby) and very hard stone that comes in many colours (from iron and titanium content). Often heat treated to improve colouring.
SARD a red/brown Carnelian
SARDONYX of the Quartz family made up of two layers -Sard and Onyx
SATIN SPAR 2 fibrous pale/clear Gypsum with a ‘satin’ sheen
SCAPOLITE 6 a silicate with aluminium in many colours
SCHALENBLENDE a Sphalerite from Poland
SCHEELITE 5 a tungsten ore white, yellow, orange appearance similar to Fluorite.
SCHORL 7 a black Tourmaline (iron content)
SEFTONITE 7 a Chalcedony (Quartz family) usually mossy green
SELENITE 2 colourless, transparent form of Gypsum
SERPENTINE 5 a green to black stone and mineral group. Both Serpentine (softer) and Bowenite (harder) are called Serpentine.
SIDERITE 4 an iron carbonate (name from Greek sideros=iron)
SILVER soft metal (pure silver is 2.5 hardness) often alloyed with other metals (copper etc) for jewellery (usually sterling or 925 silver which is 92.5% pure silver)
SMITHSONITE 4 a zinc ore in various colours, grey/brown to blue/green.
SMOKEY QUARTZ 7 quartz with a brown colouring caused by aluminium/lithium or radioactivity.
SNOWFLAKE OBSIDIAN 5 is obsidian with small clusters of Cristobalite(a quartz) crystals.
SNOW QUARTZ 7 white/pale quartz
SOAPSTONE 1.5 (Saponite) soft, easily carved silicate (variety of Talc) in white or hint of other colours.
SODALITE 6 sodium aluminium silicate chloride! Dark blue with streaks. Related to Lapis Lazuli.
SPECTROLITE 6 blue/green/yellow Labradorite from Finland
SPESSARTITE 7 an orange/red garnet
SPHALERITE 4 (Zincblende) a zinc sulphide yellow-brown
SPINEL 8 a hard stone, Feldspar family which sometimes looks like Ruby. Iron and chrome in Spinel gives variety of colours.
SPODUMENE 6.5 Aluminium silicate with two main varieties, Hiddenite and Kunzite.
STAUROLITE 7 (Fairy Cross) usually reddish brown and forms cross shaped crystals.
STEATITE 1.5 Compacted form of Talc
STIBNITE 2 a silver grey sulphide with long crystals.
STICHTITE 5 A Serpentine with chrome, usually red-purple
STILBITE 4 a pearl-like silicate usually pink-white
STRAWBERRY QUARTZ 7 strawberry coloured Quartz!
SUGILITE 6 a real mixture! with Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Manganese, Aluminium and Lithium. Usually purple but also other colours and often with inclusions. Named after K Sugi, dicoverer.
SULPHUR 2 an element with unique yellow colour
SUNSTONE Aventurine Feldspar orange-red-brown with shining inclusions (Haematite or Goethite)
TALC 1 the softest crystal, family includes Soapstone and Steatite. Source of talcum powder.
TANZANITE 6 blue-pale purple variety of Zoisite. Often enhanced to improve colour. Discovered 1967 and named by Tiffanys jewellers after Tanzania, the only genuine source.
TEKTITE a formation caused by impact of a meteorite - believed to be material from the area, changed by the heat and pressure or perhaps a fused combination of material from the meteorite and the impact area.
THULITE 6 a variety of Zoisite containing manganese. Usually pink
TIGER IRON 7 a combination of Tigers Eye, Jasper and Haematite
TIGERS EYE 7 brown-yellow Quartz variety with internal reflection (chatoyancy). Green-Grey colour is called Cats Eye.
TOPAZ 8 Very hard Aluminium Silicate with variety of colours Yellow (with chromium content), Blue (from iron) or red/brown (from manganese) . Pink Topaz often made by irradiating Yellow Topaz and heat treatment can create other colours.
TOURMALINE 7 a very wide variety of colours and also clear. Can show different colours from varying angles. The Watermelon Tourmaline variety is usually pink and green.
TREE AGATE 7 white/pale quartz with moss-like green iron silicates
TSAVOLITE 7 a green grossular garnet. Colour from chromium/vanadium content
TURITELLA JASPER 7 a jasper (usually yellowish) containing mini fossils
TURQUOISE 6 a porous blue to green phosphate. Colour from copper/aluminium content. Discovered in and named after Turkey. Found in desert areas worldwide
ULEXITE 2 a brittle white/clear Borate. Some crystals form like a cotton ball. Found with the mineral Borax.
UNAKITE 6.5 a granite variety, green with red/pink areas. Named after Unaka mountains USA.
UVAROVITE 7 emerald green Garnet, named after Russian politician.
UVITE 7.5 A tourmaline variety with magnesium content green, brown, black
VANADINITE 3 lead phosphate and similar structure to Apatite. Usually red-orange.
VARISCITE 5 a phosphate, transparent to greenish colour
VERDITE 5 a name for Serpentine
VERDELITE 7 a green Tourmaline
VESUVIANITE 6.5 (Idocrase) Calcium Aluminium silicate
VIOLAN 5 or Violane. Diopside variety blue-purple.
WATERMELON TOURMALINE 7 a Tourmaline variety coloured red and green.
WATER SAPPHIRE Trade name for blue Iolite
WILLIAMSITE 5 Serpentine variety, green-black
WOLLASTONITE 5 a common calcium silicate. Named after English mineralogist. Wollaston
WULFENITE 3 a lead ore, usually red-yellow.
ZEOLITE a mineral group including Philipsite and Heulandite. Zeolites form in the gaps and cracks of volcanic rock.
ZIRCON 7.5 a zirconium (metal) ore in many colours from brown/red to blues. Often heat treated to become other colours or transparent.
ZOISITE 6 Calcium Aluminium silicate with varieties including Tanzanite (contains Strontium) and Thulite (contains Manganese). Named after von Zois.