You may think of brown topaz when asked to recall brown gemstones, but did you know many other gemstones are also available in shades of brown?
Agate – Agates are often found in affordable sterling silver or costume jewelry. Brown agate occurs naturally, but can also be dyed. The color ranges from a pale taupe to dark brown. It is also found in banded varieties with other colors mixed in. Agate is quite durable and makes beautiful jewelry.
Apatite – Brown apatite is a soft stone that can easily be chipped or damaged. Apatite is made of the same materials found in our teeth and bones, calcium phosphate. It also comes in a rainbow of other colors.
Axinite – Axinite runs from brown to reddish-brown. Most specimens are semi-transparent with inclusions. It is kept as a collectors crystal, but can also be cut into gemstones. Axinite deposits are found in Brazil, France, Mexico, USA (especially Baja California), Sri Lanka, Russia, Pakistan and Tanzania
Cassiterite – Cassiterite is the primary ore used in the manufacture of tin. Gem quality stones are rare. It can be red, brown or yellow in color. Faceted stones are sometimes used in jewelry.
Cat’s Eye – Brown cat’s eye is actually the name for several different brown gemstones that give a cat’s chatoyance effect. These include apatite, scapuliate, sillimanite and opal. All are similar in appearance.
Chalcedony – Brown chalcedony is a type of quartz stone. Chalcedony comes in many colors, among them a lovely golden brown. It makes a lovely cabochon-cut stone and is very pretty in sterling silver jewelry.
Citrine – The most common yellow gemstone, citrines can also be brown in color. The color comes from heat-treating purple amethysts. Both amethyst and citrine are colors of quartz.
Clinozoisite – From the same mineral that brings us tanzanite, clinozoisite is the brown form of zoisite. Like Tanzanite, it is a soft stone that is considered a collector’s piece. It is rarely used in jewelry but gem-quality pieces are often held by collectors.
Diamond – The most popular diamond color is white, but did you know they also come in lovely chocolate brown? Brown diamonds come in shades from warm brown to dark brown. The color name, “Chocolate Diamond” is owned by the company, Levian.
Dravite– Dravite is the brown color of the gemstone tourmaline. One of the interesting phenomena of brown tourmaline gemstones is their pleochroism; the ability to exhibit different colors depending on the viewing angle.
Dumortierite – Often a lovely denim blue color, dumortierite also comes in brown, green, violet and pink. Dumortierite was first described in 1881 for an occurrence in Chaponost, in French alps and named for the French paleontologist Eugène Dumortier.
Enstatite -One of the rarer brown gemstones, enstatite is mainly found in Burma. It is soft and brittle which unfortunately makes it less than ideal for most jewelry.
Fluorite – Fluorite is a beautiful stone that is very soft (4 on the Moh’s Scale) and should be worn carefully. Also called fluorspar, this stone is typically used in chemical applications, but some stones are transparent enough to use as gemstones. There are many colors of fluorite available, including brown.
Garnet – Garnets are best known for their shades of red, but there are actually a variety of colors, including brown. Andradite and hessonite are the best-known varieties. Brown garnets also come in a color change variety that alternates with pink, depending on the light source.
Golden Beryl – Beryl is the mineral name for emeralds, but some beryl is naturally golden brown. These stones range from a light golden brown to a darker warm brown. Most are heavily included. It might also be called Heliodor.
Jadite – Green is the most common and popular color of jade but it can be found in brown. There are actually two kinds of jade, nephrite, and jadeite. Jadeite is considered higher quality and more valuable but it is difficult to tell the difference.
Jasper – Jasper stones are found all over the world. They come in a wide variety of colors, including a lovely warm brown. Jasper can be carved into cabochon stones, or made into beads. Brown jasper is also known as chocolate jasper.
Kornerupine – Kornerupine comes in several shades including brown, green and red. The brown tends to a reddish-brown shade. It is a fairly hard stone (7 on the Moh’s Scale). It is found in Kenya, Madagascar, and Myanmar.
Moonstone – Most moonstones are white or white with rainbow iridescence, however, some moonstones are naturally brown. It can be solid in color, or iridescent. The name comes from the mythical belief that the stone was formed from the light of the moon. Some moonstones have a star-like appearance.
Opal – Opals come in many colors including pink, green, orange and white, but one of the rarer types is the brown boulder opal. It is found embedded in large boulders of ironstone.
Pearl – Pearls come in many natural colors, among them the common white or ivory, but golden brown pearls are particularly beautiful. Many yellow pearls are dyed, but the color is found naturally in South Sea oysters. Chocolate Tahitian pearls with good luster and no blemishes can cost thousands of dollars.
Pietersite – Lesser known than other brown gemstones, pietersite is a variety of Quartz, composed naturally of Tiger’s Eye, Hawk’s Eye and Jasper. It has wonderful chatoyancy and play of light.
Rutile Quartz – Rutilated quartz is a variety of quartz containing needle-like inclusions of rutile. These inclusions mostly look golden, but they also can be silver, copper red or deep black. Brown rutile quartz is typically warm in tone. it makes a beautiful gemstone and is lovely in sterling silver or gold.
Sphalerite – Sphalerite comes in yellow, red, green, orange or honey brown colors. It is a very soft stone (3.5-4 on the Moh’s Scale), making it better as a collectors stone. It is sometimes used in jewelry.
Spinel – While not as valuable at its natural blue counterpart, brown spinel still makes lovely gemstone jewelry. At one time only the red varieties were used as gemstones but in modern times all colors of spinel have value.
Smoky Quartz – Quartz comes in many colors, each with its own color name. Smoky quartz is known for its gray-brown color.
Tiger’s Eye- Hawk’s eye is a variety of Tiger’s eye quartz that comes in shades of blue. It is also known as Silicified Crocidolite as well as Falcon’s Eye and Rodusite. Valued for its bands that appear to move with the light, it can be found in many places around the work including India, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.
Topaz – Unlike blue topaz, which has been heat-treated, brown topaz occurs naturally. Also known as precious topaz and imperial topaz, it is mined mostly in Brazil.
Zircon -Zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia. Zircon is a natural stone whereas CZ’s are man-made. Blue and white are the most common naturally occurring colors of zircon but you can also find beautiful brown gemstones. Zircon is a soft stone that wears best in necklaces and earrings where it is less likely to be damaged. It also comes in other shades, including pink and red.