Brown gemstones may not be a popular choice in jewelry. Nonetheless, most of these precious nature stones are very durable and are great for everyday wear.
In this article, you'll learn:
- What brown gemstones are
- Where to buy them
- And our top picks when it comes to popular brown gemstones
What Are Brown Gemstones?
Brown is not a usual gemstone color for collectors and enthusiasts alike. In fact, most stores will only have a few of these stones in stock.
But with modernity lurking on our runways, they are becoming a popular choice, partly to shake off boring conventional colors.
One good example is the brown diamond which is recently gaining tract with famous people. In essence, brown is a symbol of nature, health, and simplicity.
Their earthy look can be found in an array of shades from dark to light. These stones are not gender-centric and will fit perfect for jewelry for both men and women.
You can check out the brown diamond selection from James Allen here to get an idea of varieties available.
To learn more about gemstones, here's a crash course on the most precious stones on Earth:
Where To Buy Brown Gemstones?
You can have your own pair of brown gemstones through online buying at trusted retailers like James Allen or gem hunting at brick and mortar stores. Either way you are sure to find the best kinds on sale.
What Are The Types of Brown Gemstones?
Brown gemstones, though not many, come as different minerals. Let’s look at some of the common types from the cheapest to the most expensive (not listed in any order!).
- Brown Diamond (from James Allen)
- Fire Agate
- Tiger’s Eye
- Brown Citrine
- Brown Tourmaline
- Smoky Quartz
- Chocolate Opal
- Mahogany Obsidian
- Cat’s Eye Apatite
Reviews of the 10 Best Brown Gemstones Used in Jewelry
- Most common type of diamond
- Great brilliance
- Lab-grown varieties available
- $2,500 - $4,500
A few decades ago when people always thought the pinnacle of a diamond was based on clarity, brown diamonds were simply undesired.
However, the millennial wave brought a sudden urge to break out the norm of colorless diamond jewelry.
Brown diamonds are known by many nicknames such as cognac, chocolate, and champagne. Brown diamonds are probably the most common of all diamonds and affordable too. Dark brown varieties are the most valued and are rather expensive.
As with all diamonds, they have excellent brilliance and still the hardest of all gems. Most people go for the dark brown varieties since they’ll easily hide any inclusions. However, if you insist on inclusion free dark brown diamonds, synthetic varieties are available.
If you're ready to take a peek at the best brown diamonds around, check out the selection from James Allen.
- A bit affordable
- Not quite popular
- Relatively rare
- Waxy luster
- Tough gem
- $0.5 - $15
Fire agates have beautiful colors similar to opal occurring in different bubbles and swirls.
The brown types have great iridescence and smooth sheen. However, you’ll only find deposits of fire agates in a few locations (generally in Mexico and USA).
A good quality fire agate is translucent, has a waxy luster and a hardness of 7 Mohs. Since the stone is a member of the quartz family, it is very tough. It is often cut into cabochons and crafted into unique patterns, bringing out the sheen of the stone.
- Relatively affordable
- Not faceted
- Sometimes exhibits chatoyancy
- $0.5 - $10
Tiger’s Eye is a common quartz form that is very abundant and easy to find. It is a great stone having unique patterns across its surface.
With its golden-brown color, the stone sometimes exhibits the cat’s eye effect (chatoyancy), especially when cut into cabochons.
Tiger’s Eye has a silky luster sometimes displaying iridescence. It has a hardness of 6.5 to 7 Mohs.
The stone is durable enough to be used in everyday jewelry. Ancient healers used tiger stone to help people release anxiety and stimulate creativity.
- Easy to find
- Very affordable
- Not commonly known
- Widely available
- Vitreous luster
- $4 - $15
Citrine belongs to the quartz family and its brown hue is an effect of trace iron during formation. However, most market specimens are actually heat-treated amethysts.
Of course, brown natural citrine is widely available and does exist in countries like Madagascar, Brazil, Burma, and the USA.
Brown citrine gemstones are often vitreous and highly transparent. Faceting is done to maximize in the gem’s brilliance. It is a relatively hard gemstone (7 Mohs), and can last for ages with reasonable care.
They are mostly inclusion free and quite visible, making them perfect choices for statement rings and other jewelry.
- Relatively cheap
- Great for statement jewelry
- Heat treatment is common
- Somewhat rare
- $300 - $1,000
Tourmaline is a colorful gem and the brown variety can be a difficult one to find. However, the stone is fiery and may have secondary undertones of pink or purple.
Collectors value the dark, intensely saturated gems with perfect clarity and brilliance. Such specimens are quite expensive.
Brown tourmalines are faceted into different shapes to bring out their brilliance. They are quite compatible with all types of jewelry and can last for a long time (7 to 7.5 Mohs).
Brown tourmaline gemstones are great for rings, pendants, and earrings as they have an attention-seeking sparkle.
- Best for all jewelry
- Best quality may be hard to find
- Opaque to transparent
- $40 - $200
Initially discovered in the Spanish town of Andalusia, andalusite is a beautiful gemstone that people are yet to discover. On the other hand, a few varieties have been on the spotlight-setting the pace for the brown hued gemstone.
Andalusite is pleochroic and shows two shades of color depending on the angle you view it from. Most forms of the gem have undertones of yellow, orange, and green.
If perfectly cut, the stone could show a great deal of colors. Andalusite is typically faceted to enhance its brilliance and pleochroism.
The gem is mostly opaque but there are transparent varieties (extremely rare and expensive). It is a durable stone (7.5 Mohs) and fits in almost any type of jewelry.
- Appealing brilliance
- Not quite popular
- Occurs as large crystals
- Medium durability
- $0.5 - $10
Smoky quartz is another brown variety of crystalline quartz ranging from yellowish brown hues to dark brown.
Smoky quartz is one of the most abundant gemstones and even the brown hue is not as popular. It is mostly found in huge crystals of great transparency with minor inclusions.
The brown hues form because of irradiation of aluminum impurities during its crystal formation. Most smoky quartz has a vitreous luster and displays decent amounts of brilliance.
When cut en cabochon, the stone looks waxy and smooth and when faceted, the darker shades appear orangish brown. With a reasonable hardness of 7 Mohs, the stone is great for all jewelry types.
- Great for all jewelry
- Quite cheap
- Not a common variety of quartz
- Unique patterns
- Very soft
- Most have inclusions
- $100 - $200
Chocolate opal has a brown color that is distinct from other varieties of opal. Its dark tone contains interesting patterns that are sometimes snakeskin-like.
Chocolate opals are translucent to opaque and have a glossy luster. Some specimens have minor impurities and flaws but they’ll not significantly affect the price of the stone.
However, highly valued chocolate opal may not have inclusions and are often very glossy.
Chocolate opal is relatively soft (5.5 to 6.5 Mohs) and works well on most jewelry types. Due to their soft nature, it’s advisable to buy chocolate opal with protective settings or buy loose gemstones then find the best setting for your stone.
- Relatively abundant
- Low durability
- Volcanic aggregate
- Waxy luster
- Low-medium hardness
- $1 - $5
The common variety of obsidian is black but it all depends on what enters the rock during its volcanic formation.
Sometimes varieties of inclusions may interfere with obsidian’s color forming a dark-brown variety containing interesting red and brown patterns.
The stone has a waxy luster and is mostly cut en cabochon. As the inclusions affects mahogany obsidian’s compact nature, faceting is not suitable.
The gemstone is generally soft (5.5 Mohs) and is susceptible to breakage when exposed to rough conditions. It’s a great option for creating a hippy or even bohemian vibe.
- Unparalleled bohemian vibe
- Very cheap
- Breaks easily
Cat’s Eye Apatite
- Exhibits chatoyancy
- Quite soft
- $100 - $300
Similar to Tiger’s Eye, cat’s eye apatite exhibits chatoyancy. This effect is better seen when you look at the stone under direct light as it exhibits the cat’s eye effect running down the gem’s surface.
For a better chatoyancy, the stone is usually cut en cabochon optimizing the cat’s eye effect.
So, the quality of chatoyancy is one crucial aspect to look for on this kind of apatite. Because the stone is soft (5 Mohs), it’s not your best brown gemstone for jewelry. If you insist on having one, make sure to ask for protective settings like bezel.
- Generally affordable
- Not durable