Rock Discoveries

Uncovering the Beauty of Organic Gemstones: History Formation and Uses

Gemstones are a popular addition to any jewelry collection. While most people are familiar with inorganic gemstones such as diamonds and rubies, there is a lesser-known category of gems that has been prized for centuries – organic gemstones.

These gems are created by living organisms or from fossilized remains, and include popular stones such as amber, pearl, jet, coral, ammolite, and ivory. This article aims to provide readers with an overview of what organic gemstones are, how they are created, and their historical uses.

What are Organic Gemstones?

Organic gemstones are a class of gemstones that are created by living organisms or from fossilized remains.

They are different from inorganic gemstones such as diamonds or rubies, which are formed continuously over millions of years through geological processes. Instead, organic gemstones are formed through the biological processes of living organisms or by the slow fossilization of once-living organisms.

Living organisms create organic gems such as pearl and coral.

Pearls are created by mollusks, such as oysters, who form them to protect themselves from irritants such as sand that enter their shells.

Over time, layers of nacre build up around the particle, creating a smooth and lustrous pearl.

Corals are formed by colonies of tiny animals called polyps, who deposit calcium carbonate to create their hard and colorful skeletons.

Fossilized remains create organic gems such as amber, jet, ammolite, and ivory. Amber is formed from the hardened sap of ancient trees and can contain insects and other plant and animal remains from millions of years ago.

Jet is formed from the fossilized remains of the wood of ancient trees in deep layers of the earth’s crust.

Ammolite is created from the fossilized shells of ammonites, a type of sea creature that lived millions of years ago.

Ivory comes from the tusks and teeth of animals such as elephants, walruses, and mammoths, which have been extinct for thousands of years.

Historical Use of Organic Gemstones

Organic gemstones have a long and rich history of use in decoration and jewelry making.

Pearls, for example, have been prized for centuries for their beauty and rarity.

In ancient Rome, only the ruling class was allowed to wear pearls, and they were often given as wedding gifts to symbolize purity and love.

Coral has also been used in jewelry since ancient times, with Egyptians using coral to create necklaces and other pieces more than 4,000 years ago.

Amber has been used for centuries as an ingredient in perfumes and incense, as well as for decorative purposes. Baltic amber, in particular, has been prized for its unique and intricate patterns, and was highly valued by both the Vikings and the ancient Greeks.

Jet, too, has a long history of use in jewelry, particularly during the Victorian era when it was used extensively in mourning jewelry.

Ammolite, though not as well-known as other organic gems, has been used by indigenous peoples of North America for making jewelry and ceremonial objects for centuries.

Ivory, due to its durability and beauty, has been used for centuries to create intricate carvings, jewelry, and other decorative objects. The use of ivory dates back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia, with examples of ivory carvings from as far back as 6000 BC.

Ivory was also used extensively during the medieval and Renaissance periods for ecclesiastical objects and luxurious items such as chess pieces and fans.


Organic gemstones are a beautiful and fascinating category of gems that are created through living organisms or from fossilized remains. While not as well-known as inorganic gemstones such as diamonds and rubies, they have a rich history of use in decorative objects and jewelry making.

From the lustrous pearls, to the intricate patterns of Baltic amber, to the durable beauty of ivory, organic gemstones offer a unique and exquisite addition to any collection.

List of Organic Gemstones

When thinking about gemstones, most people typically think of inorganic minerals and rocks that are rare and valuable. However, there is another category of gemstones that are equally alluring – organic gemstones.

These gemstones are created from living organisms, such as mollusks, or fossilized remains of organisms. In this article, we will list and describe some of the most popular organic gems, their formation, and unique properties that make them so desirable.

Types of Organic Gemstones

Organic gemstones are formed from living organisms or fossilized remains of organisms. The gems created from living organisms are often referred to as biogenic or biominerals, and they include pearls, mother of pearls, and others.

Fossilized organism gems, on the other hand, include amber, jet, coral, ivory, ammonite, crinoid, petrified wood, turritella agate, sand dollar, and many others.

Examples of Organic Gemstones


One of the most popular organic gemstones is amber, which is known for its warm and rich color, as well as its unique inclusions. Amber is a fossilized resin that comes from coniferous trees, mainly pine trees, that grew during the Tertiary period, approximately 40 to 60 million years ago.

When the tree was damaged, the resin would flow out of the tree and eventually solidify. Over time, the earth’s movements buried the resin, where it hardened and fossilized.

Today, the Baltic region of Europe is the largest producer of amber, and its amber is characterized by its transparency and beautiful hues of yellow, orange, and red. The color of the amber depends on the species of the tree it comes from, as well as the degree of oxidation that has occurred over time.

Some amber can also have inclusions of other organic material such as insects, plant parts, and even tiny vertebrates. These inclusions add character to the amber and make each piece unique.

Appearance and Properties of Amber

Amber is known for its warm and rich color, and its transparency. It can range from pale yellow to dark orange-red, and from clear to opaque.

The most valuable amber is clear, transparent, and has no inclusions. However, amber with inclusions is highly sought after by collectors and is often used in jewelry.

Amber has unique electrical properties, which make it a good conductor of electricity. When rubbed with a cloth, it becomes charged with static electricity and can attract small particles such as dust or straw.

For thousands of years, people have used amber for medical and healing purposes because of its electrical properties.


Organic gemstones are unique and desirable because of their origin and often contain historical and scientific significance. Amber comes from ancient pine trees and has the additional properties of static electricity.

Understanding the unique properties and formation of organic gemstones only deepens our appreciation for these fascinating and beautiful gemstones.


Pearl is a highly sought-after organic gemstone that has been prized for its beauty and rarity for centuries.

Pearls are created by mollusks, such as oysters and mussels, and are formed as a result of an irritant entering the mollusk’s shell.

In this article, we will explore the formation, types and colors of pearls, as well as the value factors that increase their worth. Formation of


Pearls are formed by mollusks’ response to an irritant, such as a grain of sand or a parasite, entering their shell. The mollusk secretes a substance called nacre, which coats the irritant, eventually creating a pearl.

Natural pearls are rare and highly prized for their organic, unique, and irregular shape. Types and Colors of


There are two types of pearls: freshwater and saltwater pearls.

Saltwater pearls are produced by oysters and are often found in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Freshwater pearls are produced by mussels and are mainly found in rivers and lakes in China, the United States, Japan, and Europe.

Saltwater pearls are more valuable than freshwater pearls, mainly due to their rarity and quality. The colors of pearls can vary with different species of mollusks and the water environment in which they are grown.

Natural pearls come in many different colors, including white, cream, black, gray, blue, green, purple, and yellow. Value Factors for


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has established seven value factors for pearls:



Pearls are measured in millimeters, with larger pearls being more valuable. 2.

Shape: Round pearls are the most valuable shape. 3.

Color: Evenly colored pearls without blemishes are the most valuable. 4.

Overtone and Luster: The shimmer and reflective quality on the surface of the pearl is an essential factor. 5.

Surface: Fewer blemishes and imperfections increase the value. 6.

Matching: When used in jewelry pieces, pearls used in pairs should match in size, shape, and color. 7.

Origin: The origin of the pearl can impact its value.


Jet is an organic gemstone that is formed from fossilized wood that has undergone carbon compression over millions of years. The compression causes the wood to become compact and hard, resulting in a stone-like substance known as jet.

Jet can be found in freshwater and saltwater, with the best-known deposit located in Whitby, England. Properties and Uses of


Jet has a deep, velvety black color that is highly sought after in jewelry. When polished, it mirrors the appearance of glossy obsidian.

Due to its color and luster, jet has been used extensively in mourning jewelry. In the Victorian era, jet was often used to create mourning jewelry because of its dark color, which signified mourning.

Jet is a soft material that has a low hardness, making it easy to carve and shape. However, this also makes it less durable than other gemstones, and it can scratch and chip easily.

Jet can be treated with oil or wax to increase its durability and shine.


Organic gemstones, such as pearl and jet, have unique and interesting formations, making them highly desirable for many people worldwide.

Pearls, formed from mollusks, have many different colors and value factors, making them extremely valuable.

On the other hand, jet, formed from compressed wood, offers a beautiful, deep black appearance and has long been used in mourning jewelry. The organic gemstone world is an extensive and fascinating realm, providing beauty and uniqueness to all that can acquire it.


Coral is an organic gemstone derived from the skeletal remains of coral polyps, tiny marine animals that live in colonies in shallow waters, producing a hard and durable limestone structure.

Coral is made up of millions of tiny calcium carbonate skeletons called sclerites, which result in an intricate and detailed appearance.

In this article, we will explore the formation of coral and the different colors and uses of this fascinating gemstone. Formation of


Coral begins to form when coral polyps excrete calcium carbonate, which creates a hard skeleton for them to attach and grow upon. As more and more polyps join together, they begin to form a coral colony.

Coral reefs are formed when these colonies grow and combine over thousands of years.

Coral reefs are found all over the world and are home to many marine species, making them the most diverse ecosystems on earth.

Colors and Uses of


Coral is typically pink-to-red in color and is often used as ornamental material for jewelry making. The intense color of coral is due to the pigments released by the coral polyps.

Coral is also found in other colors including white, cream, yellow, brown, and even black. However, the majority of coral used in jewelry is pink-to-red since it is the most valuable.

Coral is widely used in jewelry making for its beauty and unique texture. It has been used since ancient times for necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other decorative objects.

Coral was highly prized by the ancient Egyptians, who believed that it had magical powers and could ward off evil spirits.

Coral is also used for carving, figurines, and decorative items, and its unique texture and patterns make it a popular material for sculptures and other art forms.

Mother of


Mother of

Pearl is another organic gemstone that is formed from the innermost layer of mollusk shells. The material is called nacre, which is the same material that pearls are made of.

Mother of

Pearl is a highly valued gemstone for jewelry making and decorative objects due to its iridescence and luster. Formation of Mother of


The formation of Mother of

Pearl begins when a mollusk is irritated or injured.

The mollusk responds by secreting nacre, which forms a protective coating around the area of injury, creating a pearl or a layer of Mother of

Pearl. Mother of

Pearl is found in many different mollusk species, including abalone, oysters, and freshwater mussels.

Uses of Mother of


Mother of

Pearl is a highly prized gemstone for many reasons. It has a unique and captivating iridescence that reflects light in a mesmerizing way, making it extremely desirable for use in jewelry and decorative objects.

Mother of

Pearl is often used to create cameos, cabochons, and carvings due to its durability and intricate patterns. It is also used in furniture making, musical instruments, and inlays in architecture and design.


Organic gemstones, such as coral and mother of pearl, are derived from living organisms and are prized for their beauty, unique texture, and fascinating formations.

Coral is formed by coral polyps, while mother of pearl is formed by mollusks.

Both are widely used in jewelry making and decorative objects due to their special features, such as the colors, iridescence, and luster that make them so valuable. The use of these natural and stunning organic gemstones will continue to be cherished by many for years to come.


Ammolite is a relatively new and rare organic gemstone that is formed from the fossilized shells of ammonites. It is a trade name for a gem-quality mineraloid that is found mostly in the Rocky Mountains and the Western United States.

In this article, we will explore the formation and location of ammolite and its appearance and properties. Formation and Location of


Ammolite is formed from the fossilized shells of ammonites, which were extinct marine animals that lived millions of years ago. The shells of the ammonites were buried deep under the layer of sediment and were fossilized over millions of years.

The mineral composition of

Ammolite is made up of aragonite, the same mineral that makes up the inner layer of pearls and the outer layer of many seashells. The gemstone is formed from a thin layer of ammolite that is found in a few areas around the world, primarily in Southern Alberta, Canada.

Appearance and Properties of


Ammolite is an extremely rare organic gemstone with a unique and striking appearance. The gemstone is characterized by its iridescent color, which changes and shimmers depending on the lighting conditions.

The color patterns of the gemstone have been compared to that of opal and labradorite, making

Ammolite a highly prized gemstone for jewelry making. The colors of

Ammolite can range widely, with shades of green, blue, red, and yellow being the most common.

The iridescence of the gemstone is caused by interference

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