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Roger Weller, geology instructor

gem distribution
by Lumi Sellman
Physical Geology
Fall 2017

Distribution and Meaning of Different Yellow Gemstones Across the Globe

 Yellow is a very interesting primary color.  Like many colors, yellow incites unique thoughts and feelings like joy and happiness or even sickness and decay.  As there are many shades of yellow there is also a modicum of yellow gemstones.  Exactly what kind of gemstones can be yellow?  There is not only precious yellow gemstones, like yellow diamonds, but also semi-precious yellow gemstones like Tiger’s Eye.  These different gems have different prices and hold different meanings across many different cultures.

(Pictured Above from left to right: Yellow Diamond Ring (Blue Nile), Yellow Tiger’s Eye)





     Precious gems are typically the most rare, expensive, and visually stunning stones.  urprisingly almost every commonly known precious gem has a yellow variant typically found under unique circumstances.

            Yellow diamonds are typically mined out of South Africa. They vary in color and intensity, with the more expensive being closer to canary yellow, even though there are some interesting combinations of yellow and other colors.

Yellow sapphires are likely cheaper than yellow dDiamonds and are mined out of Australia instead of South Africa. Sapphire, or corundum, has slightly less hardness than diamond. Yellow sapphires are the most common of the sapphire varieties (Bernardine).

            Citrine was once the most popular yellow gemstone on the market.  It was cheap, and there was a lot of it at the time.  Now people have to chemically change other gems to mimic citrine in pieces of jewelry.


(Pictured above from left to right: Rough yellow sapphire, polished citrine)

            Semi-precious stones are not necessarily less pretty than than precious gems, but they definitely are more common and usually cheaper.  They are mostly translucent and are more scratchable that precious gems, but they are also easier to craft with.

Amber is a rock formed from the sap of a tree. It usually has a mostly golden color and can be used to permanently encase mementos for jewelry. Amber has been used to examine small creatures trapped in it from millions of years ago.

            A less biological yellow semi-precious stone is Tiger’s Eye. Though it sounds biological, tiger’s eye is usually just polished, fibrous quartz. It is not only found in South Africa but also Western Australia.

     Culturally, yellow gems have lots of meanings all over the place.  From certain wedding anniversaries to campy southwestern mementos, yellow gems can be found everywhere.

Yellow diamonds have never been as popular as the crystal clear “normal” diamond, but it is the most common variety of diamond.  So those who like the color yellow would likely have yellow diamond jewelry like a wedding ring or anniversary gifts (“Yellow Diamonds”).

Yellow sapphire is the official birthstone of September and has been attributed to the star signs Pisces, Taurus, Virgo, Sagittarius across different cultures.  Sapphire is also usually the 65th anniversary gemstone, if you make it that many years (Bernadine).

Citrine is the official birthstone of the month November and the Virgo star sign. Most “citrine” on the market is actually treated amethyst.  It is said citrine helps with creativity (Bernardine).

Amber is found and used all over the world. From the Amber Room in Europe to the Scorpion Amber necklaces in New Mexico.  It is golden color can seem rich but amber is used all over all the time, and is typically a pretty cheap gem.


(Pictured above: Amber (Weller)

Tiger’s Eye can be used as the 9th anniversary gemstone and is typically associated with the Gemini Sign.  As a form of quartz, tiger’s eye is thought to have healing properties.  While rather uniquely beautiful, tiger’s eye is pretty common and can be mined anywhere from Asia to the Americas to Africa.

As colors go yellow is pretty amazing. The many different ways it takes form in the gems of the world could be considered proof of its beauty. The precious and semi-precious gemstones across the world hold very unique meanings all over. A tiger’s eye in one country might be a sign of healing and peace, while for others it might be a bad omen.  Gemstones will always be an interesting quirk for humans, and we’ll likely never stop collecting them. When they are this vibrant, who would want to?




Works Cited

Bernardine, Nancy. “Pictures of Yellow Gemstones.” Bernardine Custom Jewelry Designs,

Blue Nile. “Blue Nile Fancy Yellow Cushion-Cut Diamond Ring in Platinum (3.32 Ct. Tw.).” Blue Nile, Blue Nile, platinum_63923?gclid=Cj0KCQiAl8rQBRDrARIsAEW_To93lNDrzOX8ubTwCKhddG_6PsKr9bRoZBnPGyLLnYJEFNwDvA1NvmcaAgT5EALw_wcB

cooltools. “Natural Yellow Tiger Eye Gemstone - Cabochon Oval | Cool Tools.”, Cooltools, Natural-Yellow-Tiger-Eye- Gemstone-Cabochon- Oval-p/gem-071-p.htm.

Weller, Roger. “Transparent Gem Colors.” Gemstones-Color of Faceted Gems,

“   Color of Translucent Gemstones    Cochise College     .” Gemstones-Color of Faceted Gems,

“Yellow Diamonds Wiki -All about the Canary Yellow Diamond.” Yellow Diamonds Wiki - All about the Canary Yellow Diamond | Naturally Colored,