8 Phenomenal Colour Change Gemstones
When you’re looking for a captivating jewelry piece or striking different gemstones to add to your collection, color-change gemstones are an excellent addition. The shifting hues make the different colors of the stone visually intriguing, giving the gems that little something extra in different light settings.
Overall, color-change gemstones are relatively rare in a grander sense. When it comes to individual gemstone types, some are exceedingly rare, while others are more accessible. How dramatic the color change is in these gems also varies. Some transition between two complementary colors, while others shift to analogous hues.
Regardless of the rarity or degree of color shift, these stones have a unique beauty you typically don’t see in other gems. Whether you are a mineral collector or you’d like to add one these phenomenal color changing gemstones to your jewelry collection, here is a list of gemstones with color change phenomena you might want to explore.
8 Gemstones that change color
If you’re discussing any color changing gemstones, you have to mention alexandrite. It’s one of the most expensive color-shifting gemstones when talking about naturally-occurring specimens, though lab-created alexandrite is often surprisingly affordable and doesn't come with the premium price attached to its natural counterpart.
In most cases, the base alexandrite color is described as a mossy, green color that’s slightly bluish, as that’s the hue you’ll see in natural sunlight. However, when the gem is viewed under incandescent lighting, the stone appears to turn red, often with a slight purplish or raspberry tint. As a result, when describing alexandrite, some say it’s an emerald by the light of day and a ruby by night.
Since green and red are complementary colors, the alexandrite color change is one of the most noticeable and dramatic. While you can see a similar color change in some lab-created alexandrite gems, others won’t have the same color characteristics. Instead, the base shade might appear bluer, and the secondary hue heads into purple territory. As a result, most people looking for the red-to-green shift generally prefer genuine alexandrite.
2. Color Change Garnet
Garnet is another gem that changes color in different lighting if you have the right specimen. A color-change garnet could have a dramatic shift in coloration under candle light alone, starting out reddish brown and transitioning to reddish purple or pink or beginning as a bluish-green stone and ending up purple, depending on the light sources. Others are more subtle, going from deeper shades of earthy red to lighter oranges or truer or purplish reds to raspberry pinks.
Since garnets come in a range of hues, the color change properties can also run the gamut when it comes to color change. Most color change garnets will exhibit three different shades: one in daylight, one in incandescent light, and one in candle light. However, some may only have a change color of two.
Usually, if you’re looking for a color change garnet, you’ll need to focus on pyrope or spessartite, as those varieties more commonly have the characteristic. However, some other versions may exhibit color-shifting properties, too.
Andesine is a feldspar mineral with color-changing potential. Not all of the stones will change to different colors. Instead, they typically have relatively stable colorations, either looking red, green, yellow or a pale yellow.
With color-changing andesine, you usually see green and red in the stone, depending on the lighting and angle. As a result, in faceted andesine, some segments may seem to remain green while others showcase earthy red hues.
Sometimes, the color shifts you witness can also move between a green color, and violet or purple color. Again, the different hues are most easily observed if the andesine is faceted.
Technically, color-changing andesine is a slightly controversial stone, as many are treated to strengthen the red hues. While the vast majority of the gems are themselves natural stones, the treated gemstones aren’t in their original state, which is why some have reservations about the stone. However, if you’re looking for phenomenal gems, andesine is worth considering.
4. Color Change Sapphires
When you think about a color changing gemstone, a color change sapphire doesn’t usually come to mind. Primarily, this is because a color change sapphire is very rare, so they aren’t widely available on the market. Plus, they’re an incredibly expensive color changing gemstone due to their rarity.
With a color-change sapphire, in natural light, the appearance is a classic blue sapphire. The shade shifts toward purple when the gemstone is exposed to artificial lighting. How dramatic the change is varies by stone. With some color-change sapphires, in natural light, it’s incredibly subtle, only exhibiting a slight purple tint. For others, it’s strikingly distinct, almost making a sapphire look like a bright purple amethyst under the proper lighting.
The color change diaspore exhibits is incredibly striking. Under bright light, the color is typically a lime green or kiwi green, not unlike what you may see with peridot. In incandescent light, the hue shifts, usually falling in champagne territory though potentially being an earthy light yellow. In very low light, it can even have a light purplish-pink coloration.
Zultanite is a Turkish stone that changes color. While it’s marketed under another name, the zultanite gemstone is technically diaspore. That means the zultanite color change is the same as what’s described above.
Csarite is another name for a diaspore gemstone that is a color change variety. However, those listed under the zultanite moniker usually have the most dramatic color change, so it’s wise to search for it specifically if you’re looking for a color-change diaspore.
While spinel isn’t known for an incredibly strong color change, some do shift hues slightly. Typically, this is most common with deep blue-colored spinel. With those, the shade of blue may start leaning toward purple when viewed under indoor light.
One benefit of color-change spinel is that while it’s more expensive than some varieties, it isn’t necessarily the highest-priced version of the gemstone. Instead, it’s near the middle when it comes to cost, which can make it a relatively affordable color-changing stone.
7. Color Change Fluorite
Fluorite comes in a wide range of colors, so many would assume that any color-shifting properties you see are natural. While some pieces of fluorite will have color-changing capabilities on their own, that’s typically relatively rare. Instead, color-change fluorite gems are commonly treated to augment that trait. By irradiating fluorite, a blue gemstone can appear to shift to purple under the right lighting conditions.
In some cases, color changing fluorite may be a piece with different shades across the stone. Depending on how it’s faceted, that can create the look of a color change, as the other color isn’t visible from all angles.
One essential thing to note about fluorite is that it’s relatively soft. Fluorite isn’t ideal for jewelry without the right setting since it’s somewhat easy to damage. As a result, it’s best to limit fluorite to low-contact jewelry pieces, such as pendants and earrings, and avoid it for rings and bracelets.
In some cases, topaz exhibits a strong fluorescence that creates color-changing properties. However, this is usually most visible under the blue wavelengths of UV light and is typically quite subtle. For example, a blue or colorless topaz may exhibit a slightly yellowish or greenish tint under long wavelength UV.
Some topaz is also irradiated to alter the base hue or increase the odds of a color shift under specific lighting conditions. You’ll also see topaz and other gemstones being treated with coatings that cause them to exhibit a broader range of shades.
For example, mystic topaz is a coated stone. After the treatment, the gem has a rainbow-like color effect. However, this type of color shift isn’t naturally occurring, so keep that in mind.