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The naming of gemstones

The jewel industry has for a long time known that some of the names which are given to gemstones are outright confusing, obscure and difficult, which makes it hard for customers to understand what they are buying. However, for customers who love the rare and unusual gemstones, this should not be a problem. On the other hand, for the mass market, the only gemstones that will find buyers are those which are well known in the world; no matter how beautiful a gemstone is, it will not be bought if it does not have the commonly known names, when in the mass market.

It is a quandary for jewelers when they have to tell customers how some of these stones got their unusual names; that such beautiful gemstones could have such unsavory names is hard to believe. For example why was it necessary to call some of these beautiful works of nature, either orthoclase or Spodumen? Why was it that such a lovely bluish green stone ended up with a name such as apatite? And these are not the only examples, there are many more. Think of the names Sphene and Diopside; it is even thought that names such as zircon, Peridot and spinel are a little odd, when you consider the beauty of the names they describe. Moonstone, opal and aquamarine are the few gemstone names that seem to have been given with much thought to the beauty of the gemstones. It was as if there were no marketing personnel in the gemstone industry when the stones were being named. Think about how they came up with a name such as chalcedony for such a wonderful gemstone.

The reason for this oddity is the fact that gemstones are usually in the technical world as well as the commercial world of selling beautiful jewelry pieces. One name will work in one world, and the other will not, and this is why some gemstones have two names; consider the red corundum in the technical world, is known as the ruby in the commercial jewelry world. However, in many other cases, the one name is used in both worlds, and as far as the jewelry world is concerned, this is usually unsavory. It is quite rare that a jewel will rename a gemstone, for the sole purpose of marketing, and the name is accepted in both worlds; this was the case when Tiffany & Co decided to change the name of blue zoisite, into tanzanite, so it could be better marketed to the general public.

Things could also go bad, and at one time they actually did. Once time there were vary many names used in marketing gemstones, and the situation was getting worse. There were so many fancy names for gemstones that it was hard for the general public to know exactly which gemstones they were buying. In fact, when asked if you would like an Arizona Ruby, you might be lost as to what exactly you are buying; this was the name that was used for the Pyrope Garnet. The same for the blue green topaz, which was at one time marketed as the Brazilian Aquamarine, The Blue Tourmaline was also at one time known as the Ural Sapphire. When you heard the term the Ceylon Diamond, one would not know that they were simply buying a clear colorless quartz stone, and sometimes the name was also used to describe white zircon.

It soon became clear that people could easily get duped into buying low-priced gemstones at very high prices, and this would affect the trade. Today, the names of the gemstones are regulated by an international body which goes by a mouthful name; the Confödäration Internationale de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfövrerie des diamants, Perles, et Pierres, or simply CIBJO, for those who could easily get tongue tied on the full name. This is an organization through which buyers and sellers alike can get proper information about the gemstones, before they buy or sell them. It is important that you know which gemstone you are buying, since most can be quite pricey.

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