Different Names of Gemstones: Misleading Trade Names Revealed

Different Names of Gemstones: Misleading Trade Names Revealed

Were you aware that you may easily fall prey to deceptive gemstone trade names? Some gemstones go by the name “diamond,” yet they are not diamonds at all.

Misleading Gemstone Trade Names Unmasked and Revealed

In this Learning Guide, I will reveal the deceptive gemstone trade names employed in gem markets and online, enabling you to distinguish between the trade name and the genuine article and safeguard yourself from being tricked.

We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about misleading gemstone trade names including:

  • What exactly is a herkimer diamond?
  • Are trade names prohibited?
  • What other names for rubies do gem traders use?

What are Gemstone Trade Names?

With over 300 types of gemstones around the world, and possibly even more undiscovered, the number of gemstones in existence is significant.

Gemstone trade names are used to refer to most gemstones that are present in the jewelry trade. For instance, emeralds are a type of beryl mineral.

However, certain jewelry gemstones are named after valuable gemstones, although they are entirely different stones. These gemstone trade names can be deceptive and must be approached with caution when buying gems from unknown vendors or online marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon.

Gemstone trade names are used to make gemstones more appealing to customers by giving them catchy names that are easier to remember than their technical mineral names. The goal is to create an emotional connection with the customer and increase the gem’s perceived value.

Why are Trade Names for Gems Used?

However, not all gemstone trade names are genuine. Some sellers use trade names to mislead customers into thinking they are buying a more valuable stone. This can be especially problematic for people who are not familiar with gemstones and their characteristics.

Is It Prohibited To Use False Gemstone Trade Names?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulations on how retailers should present certain gemstones, such as lab-created diamonds and the karat gold amount in jewelry. However, the regulations on gemstone trade names are more ambiguous. Private sellers can use trade names for gemstones without facing legal repercussions, leaving it up to the buyer to know the true identity of the gemstone they are purchasing.

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It’s important to note that not all private sellers are dishonest, and many offer unique and interesting gemstones that may not be available through big-name retailers. However, it’s essential to research the trade names of gemstones and their true identities before making a purchase from a private seller.

In conclusion, while gemstone trade names can make purchasing gemstones more appealing and accessible, they can also be misleading. It’s up to the buyer to research and educate themselves on gemstones’ true identities to avoid being duped.

The gemstone trade industry often uses the name “diamond” to describe stones that are not actually the same mineral as a real diamond. These trade names are given to other clear gemstones, and there are many popular ones that buyers should be aware of.

Herkimer Diamond

One such trade name is the Herkimer Diamond, which is not a diamond at all but instead a double-terminated white or clear quartz. While the name may imply value and prestige, the reality is that white quartz does not hold the same value as a real diamond. It is much easier to scratch and lacks the same sparkle and fire that diamonds possess.

However, this does not mean that there is anything wrong with purchasing a Herkimer Diamond. It simply means that buyers should be aware that they are not getting a real diamond despite the misleading name. It is important to do research and understand the properties and values of different gemstones before making a purchase.

Quartz “Herkimer Diamond”

Mexican Diamond

If you’re on the hunt for a diamond in Mexico, make sure to exercise caution when shopping in the gem markets. Some vendors may market their gemstones as “Mexican Diamonds,” but in reality, they’re just rock crystals or quartz.

Strass Diamonds

Another diamond substitute to watch out for is the “Strass Diamond.” These diamonds advertise themselves as imitations or simulants of real diamonds. However, as they disclose, they’re actually made of glass. It’s up to you to do the research to know what a Strass Diamond is.

Glass-Based Imitations

While other colorless gemstones like Moissanite diamonds, Cubic zirconia diamonds, and Swarovski crystal diamonds are commonly associated with the word “diamond,” they still use their respective gem names. In contrast, Strass Diamonds are faceted pieces of clear glass cut to the same specifications as a GIA certified gemstone. Unfortunately, glass is a soft material that’s easily scratched, unlike a genuine diamond.

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Arkansas Diamonds

Although not a well-known gem trade name, it’s worth discussing the dissimilarities between real diamonds from Arkansas and so-called “Arkansas Diamonds.”

Arkansas is home to Diamond Crater Park, a world-famous park where visitors can mine their own rough diamonds. Numerous exciting and valuable discoveries have been made by park visitors, making it a must-visit destination for many.

It’s a fascinating place that’s definitely on my bucket list.

However, in this instance, the term “Arkansas Diamond” refers to a stone that is actually rock crystal, also known as quartz. Many gem trade names with “diamond” in their titles are frequently rock crystal.

Uncommon Diamond Trade Names and Their Gemstone Substitutes

Some diamond trade names may not be as well-known as others. Here are a few examples and the gemstones they represent:

  • Simili Diamond – Glass
  • Saxon Diamond – Clear Topaz Stone
  • Matura Diamond – Colorless Zircon Stones
  • Marmarosch Diamond – Rock Crystals
  • Ceylon Diamond – Colorless Zircon
  • Bohemian Diamond – Clear Quartz or Rock Crystal
  • Alaska Diamond – Clear Quartz or Rock Crystal

These trade names might suggest the presence of real diamonds, but they are actually referring to alternative gemstones. Knowing the difference between genuine diamonds and their substitutes is critical when purchasing gemstones.

Deceptive Ruby Names and Their Gemstone Substitutes

As one of the most sought-after gemstones, rubies are often imitated or substituted with other red gemstones. Here are some popular deceptive ruby names and their corresponding gemstones:

American Ruby – Pyrope or Almandine Garnet

While buying from American businesses is admirable, an American Ruby is not worth the investment. The best rubies come from other parts of the world, and the small rubies found in America are typically pyrope or almandine garnets. In some cases, American Ruby can refer to rose quartz, but the difference between a red ruby and a pink rose quartz is unmistakable.

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Montana Ruby – Red Corundum or Red Garnet

The Ruby and Sapphire mines of Montana are well-known, but they primarily produce sapphires and small rubies. If you come across a Montana Ruby, make sure it’s a piece of red corundum from Montana. However, a Montana Ruby can also refer to a red garnet.

It’s critical to understand the difference between genuine rubies and their substitutes, as it can make a significant difference in value and quality.

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Greenland Ruby Engagement Ring from Brilliant Earth


Balas Ruby

Balas Ruby is a gemstone trade name that is still in use today, unlike many other misleading gemstone names. This is because, historically, colored gemstones were identified primarily by their color, rather than their crystal structure.

During the early days of gemstone discovery, many red gemstones were labeled as rubies. However, some of these “rubies” were later found to be garnets or red spinels. It was only after the development of gemstone identification equipment, years later, that these discrepancies were discovered.

Loose Almandine Red Garnet
Rough Red Spinel

Balas rubies are actually spinel stones that are found in the mines of Badakshan, Afghanistan. Although they are not true rubies, they do have a light red to pink tone. While red spinel stones are typically found in other locations, there is little information available on the Afghanistan gems.

To market these spinel stones to potential customers, a catchy name was needed. Thus, the term “balas ruby” was coined as a trade name for these Afghan gems.

Today, the term “balas ruby” is still used to describe these light red to pink spinel stones from Afghanistan, even though they are not true rubies.

Brazilian Rubies

Although Brazil is known for its production of other gemstones like emeralds and amethysts, they do mine rubies on a smaller scale. However, it’s unlikely to find Brazilian rubies being sold online. If you do come across a listing for Brazilian ruby, it’s important to verify if it’s a genuine ruby or not. In some cases, “Brazilian ruby” can refer to red or pink topaz stones.

Cape Ruby

Cape diamonds are well-known diamonds that come from Cape Town, South Africa. However, there’s also a gemstone known as a “cape ruby,” which is not a ruby at all. Instead, it’s a pyrope garnet, which is less valuable and rare than rubies. While rubies are highly saturated and have high clarity, pyrope garnets have lower clarity and color saturation.


Other Gemstone Business Names for Rubies

There are many gemstones that are marketed as rubies but are actually different stones. Some examples include Arizona Ruby, which is a pyrope garnet, Adelaide Ruby, which is an almandine garnet, and Californian Ruby, which is a hessonite garnet. The trade name Bohemian Ruby can refer to either pyrope garnet or rose quartz, while Siberian Ruby is actually a red tourmaline.

Common Trade Names for Sapphire and Emeralds

  • Lithia Emerald: Hiddenite
  • African Emerald: Green Fluorite
  • Ural Sapphire: Blue Tourmaline
  • Brazilian Sapphire: Blue Tourmaline

Popular Topaz Gemstone Trade Names

Topaz gemstones are a great choice for jewelry, as they come in a variety of colors. While some colors, such as Imperial Topaz or Blue Topaz, are more valuable than others, there are several trade names associated with topaz that can be misleading.

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Smoky Topaz

The gemstone trade name “smoky topaz” might lead one to believe it is a brownish-gray topaz stone. However, that assumption would be incorrect. In reality, “smoky topaz” is another name for smoky quartz, a type of quartz that is often used in new age practices for crystal healing. Despite being considered a low-value stone, the name “topaz” adds a certain flair to the stone.

Madeira Topaz

While “Madeira topaz” is not commonly used as a trade name anymore, it is still possible to find citrine stones marketed with this name. The term “Madeira Citrine” is becoming more widely used to describe these stones, which have orange hues instead of the light golden hues typically associated with citrine.

Here are some additional trade names for topaz gemstones:

  • Oriental topaz – This is actually a yellow sapphire and not a topaz at all.
  • Palmyra topaz – This trade name refers to lab-grown brown sapphire and not natural topaz.
  • Salmanca topaz – This gemstone is actually citrine, a variety of quartz.
  • Serra topaz – Another trade name for citrine.
Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring in Rose Gold



Gemstone varieties are usually agreed upon by both customers and the jewelry industry, such as purple quartz being referred to as amethyst. However, some stones are given trade names to make them more appealing to customers, which can be misleading in unregulated markets like Facebook or Etsy. Descriptions may include keywords to boost search rankings, even if the product is not accurate.

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To avoid purchasing gemstone fakes or being misled by trade names, buyers should be aware of these practices. If you’re someone who often shops in gem markets or online gem shows, this guide can be very helpful to you. Don’t forget to take necessary precautions and enjoy searching for gems!

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