Gemstone beads have attracted the interest of jewellery wearers, admirers and makers for thousands of years. From the turquoise gemstone bead wearers in the Aztecs to the jade gemstone makers of China, they have always been shrouded in a mystery that science has struggled to explain.
Science and gemmology will tell us many things about natural gemstone beads - natural white howlite on it's own is an interesting white colour with black veins running throughout. Obsidian gemstone beads are made from a volcanic glass - the "snowflakes" observed in the black and white patterned gemstone are caused from tiny crystals of cristobalite. Larvikite gemstone beads are manufactured from a rock not unsimilar to a black labradorite, with flecks and flashes of bright colours radiating from the stone.
Whilst available in many beautiful colours, such as purple and green beads, the gemstone fluorite is a relatively soft stone (4 on Moh's Scale) and as such should be handled with care. Green peridot gemstone beads are a favourite and if you're lucky enough, you may see their most diagnostic inclusion: a lilypad type fracture radiating from a darker crystal. Labradorite gets it's name from where it was first discovered, and is a beautiful gemstone bead, with flashes of labradorescence. The very popular jade gemstone is actually a umbrella term for the gemstones jadeite and nephrite. Being an expensive gemstone bead, often alternatives are available, such as "new jade" (actually a serpentine).
The blue gemstone beads sodalite and lapis lazuli are often confused for a very good reason: lapis generally contains the same minerals as sodalite, however it also often contains gold flecks of pyrite. Goldstone is a manmade glass created to imitate sunstone - the blue version of this is a beautiful midnight blue and makes gorgeous gemstone bead necklaces. "Turquoise" howlite, a very common gemstone bead these days is actually the gemstone called howlite, naturally a white colour, dyed a turquoise blue colour to simulate the colour of turquoise beads.
One of the most popular purple gemstone beads, amethyst is actually the purple variety of quartz. Another purple gemstone beads, lepidolite, is the byproduct from the mining of lithium. Most current "citrine" on the market is actually the purple variety of quartz (purple amethyst) that has been heated to turn it to it's golden yellow citrine colour.
A favourite pink gemstone, rhodonite gemstone beads are often confused with rhodochrosite (rhodonite has black flecks and is opaque). Unakite gemstone beads are actually classified as a rock, composing of pink feldspar, green epidote and clear quartz (rock crystal). Garnet has a strong lustre and is one of the more dense red gemstone beads available.
All of this knowledge of the properties of gemstone beads is somewhat new - for thousands of years, gemstone beads have been used for their healing properties, passed on through cultural understandings and through the land. Most pink gemstones are associated with love and caring tendencies, red gemstones tend to signify the healing of blood related issues, whilst blue and green gemstone beads are often used in a calming environment.