Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ornamental Gems

I have a soft spot for gems, but where it comes to pricing them for my world, they are a bitch.  There are no statistics for what quantity of gems are unearthed from the ground (I've looked) with the exception of diamonds ... in which case the amount of industrial quality vs. gem quality is never specified.  There are reasons for this, no doubt - the industry doesn't want us to know how common these gems are, I would guess.  At any rate, the substantial cost of a gem is not in its location.  As anyone knows who has bought a rock tumbler, the cost of gems is in the finishing.

Here are a list of ornamental stones, with visual aids and links.  They are all, in my reckoning, worth about the same amount, and represent the lowest echelon of 'gemstones.'  Some of these are included in the DMG; some are listed as 'fancy' gems in that very flawed book, a rating I contest.  But the gentle reader is certainly permitted to contest me.

I've tried to show the gems in their most ordinary, polished state, but that wasn't always possible given the pictures I found on the net.  You can search for yourself if you like, there are plenty of images showing these from their raw state to quite marvelous pieces of jewellery.  Most of these stones are made valuable because they are able to be carved, rather than simply polished and set.

The only specific information I'll add to the links would be a list of sources where the gemstone would be found in my world.  None of these lists are meant to be exhaustive, they simply include those places for which I have reputable sources.  To make it comprehensible, I will use the regional names normally associated with Earth, and not what I call them my world.

A last point.  Many of these below are lesser quality examples of superior quality gems - such as cat's eye, which is a form of chrysoberyl, or prase, which is a form of chrysoprase; in both cases, purer chrysoberyl and chrysoprase are much costlier gemstones (and I may present those at a later time).

Agate, quality: America, China, India, Iran, Madagascar, Mexico, Oregon, Rio Grande do Sul, Salm County (Germany), Uruguay.

Agate, moss: America, China, Colorado, India, Michigan, Oregon, Rio Grande do Sul, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

Azurite: Arizona, Australia, Chile, Lyon (France), Pennsylvania.

Cairngorm: Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Cat's Eye: Brazil, Ceylon, China, India.

Greenstone: China, Dudley (England), New Zealand, Odenwald Mts. (Germany), Turkestan.

Hawk's Eye: South Africa.

Hematite: America, Brazil, Cumberland (England), Elba (Italy), New Zealand, Norway, Saalfeld (Germany), Spain, Sweden.

Lapis Lazuli: Afghanistan, Badakhshan, Lake Baykal (Siberia), Chile, Coquimba Province (Chile), Hindu Kush (Pakistan).

Malachite: Arizona, Australia, Chile, South Africa, Zaire, Zimbabwe.

Mother-of-Pearl: Arafura Sea (Australia-New Guinea), California, Dahlak Islands (Red Sea), Saudi Arabia.

Prase: Erzgebirge (Germany), Finland, Salzburg (Austria), Scotland.

Quartz, quality: Afghanistan, Arkansas, Derbent, Eritrea, Grampian Hills (Scotland), Loire-Inferieure (France), Mayo County (Ireland), Orel (Russia), Orne (France), Saudi Arabia, Sinkaing (China), Vishniy-Volochek (Russia).

Quartz, blue: Brazil, Salzburg (Austria), South Africa, Sweden.

Quartz, rose: Brazil, Madagascar.

Rhodochrosite: Argentina, Colorado, San Luis (Argentina).

Rhodonite: America, Australia, India, Madagascar, Mexico, South Africa, Upper Svaeland (Sweden), Vancouver Island.

Tiger Eye: Burma, California, India, South Africa, Western Australia.

Turquoise: Afghanistan, America, Australia, California, Iran, Israel, Khurasan (Iran), Nevada, New Mexico, Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), Tanzania, Tibet, Turkestan.


  1. They may not be precious, but they are beautiful, and listing where in the world they can be found was helpful. Thanks for the lovely post.

  2. Perhaps more than any other category of merchandise, the value of gems is in the eye of the beholder.

    It's an interesting coincidence. I was just retooling jewellery prices for my game when I decided to take a break and pop over here for a moment.

    Given a dearth of information on pricing gems by type (or anything else concrete) I'm having to make up my own methods. Rather than categorise by type and price (as the DMG does), I opted for scaling by size, with percentile adjustments for quality, workmanship, and rarity. That latter characteristic is the most volatile and subjective.

    The actual type of gem is left as pure description. This way diamonds aren't overpriced, and a GM (or other player) can use his or her favourite stone in the item's description without having to worry about how the type might affect the price.

  3. Consider goldstone, an artificial gemstone that was first recorded in 1623 as 'aventurine'. Consider also Venetian glass beads, which would have spread across the western world by the mid 1600's but would still have been fairly rare. I don't know if you would consider them in the same category as the more common semiprecious gems or not, but just something to think about. I noticed too that you don't list Onyx in this category, though it is fairly common today.

  4. Aventurine would come under the heading of a ceramic for my world, while the Venetian beads you mention would come under glass, specifically crystal.

  5. I've always wondered whether "geenstone" and "jade" are the same stone or not...

  6. Well, Colmarr, I used to be a geologist...

    Jade is a silica that's light green and prized in China for jewellery.

    Nephrite (greenstone) is a silica-poor serpentinite that's very hard and great for hitting people with.

    There are also greenstones, which are metamorphic rock facies found with granites, that aren't valuable at all.

    But some nephrites are called jade, as well, just to confuse things.

  7. Does one ever stop being a geologist?

    Yes, from years of wandering rock shops it has always been annoying to see things described as 'jade' which are clearly not.

  8. Hi great info on all and having just started making jewelery its a great help.

    However the Grampian hills are in Scotland not England. Not that im trying to take anything away from the site, its just for information.



  9. Stupid of me. I will make the correction in the post, Graham. Thank you.


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