Misleading Gemstone Trade Names Unmasked and Revealed

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

Did you know you could easily be fooled by misleading gemstone trade names? 

For example, there are gemstones in the world that are called diamond, but aren't actually a diamond? 

In this Learning Guide, I will expose the misleading gemstone trade names used in gem markets and online so you can tell the trade name from the real thing and protect yourself from being duped.

misleading gemstone trade names
  • What is a herkimer diamond?
  • Are trade names illegal?
  • What are gemstone trade names for rubies?

What is a Gemstone Trade Name?

There are over 300 different gemstones in the world and probably some undiscovered gems within the earth. The point is, there are many gemstones in the world.

Emeralds, are a variety of the mineral beryl. Most gemstones have a name in the jewelry trade. They can be referred to as gemstone trade names.

However, there are other jewelry gemstones that are given the names of valuable gemstones, but are another stone entirely. These gemstone trade names are misleading, and should be watched out for when shopping for gems in from unknown buyers or in marketplace sites like Etsy or Amazon.

Why are Gem Trade Names Used?

Let's face it, not every gem has an exciting name. Furthermore, most people don't know gemstones or crystals outside the birthstone chart. Everybody wants a diamond, sapphire, emerald, or ruby, but many gemstones beyond those are unheard of.

So, gemstone and diamond brokers wanted a catchy name that would invite potential customers

Is it Illegal to Use Misleading Gemstone Trade Names?

The Federal Trade Commission has rules for retailers on how to present certain gemstones. Lab created diamonds are one of them. Jewelry metals are another. All gold jewelry must indicate its karat gold amount somewhere on the piece. Lab created diamonds have to be disclosed that they aren't mined. They also warned lab diamond sellers not to advertise all synthetic diamonds as sustainable because of the energy they do use.

But when it comes to gemstone trade names, the lines get blurry. If you frequent the loose gem sellers groups on Facebook or Etsy, you come to learn the popular trade names and what to avoid. But if you're new to it all, you can get duped easily if you don't do your research.

Basically, the way people get away with it is because they're not official retailers, but private sellers. And if they advertise the stone under trade names, it's considered the buyer's responsibility to know what the stone's trade name really is.

Unfair, I know. That's one reason why we recommend big name online retailers rather than private jewelers on the internet. But not every big jeweler sells the unique and interesting gemstones that people look for these days.

So, I've created a handy little guide to popular trade names for gemstones in jewelry.

Popular Gemstone Trade Names for Diamond

There are many gemstone trade names that are given the name "diamond" that aren't the same mineral as a real diamond. Many of these "diamond" gems are trade names for other clear gemstones. Here are some of the big ones.

Herkimer Diamond

While a herkimer diamond may have the word "diamond" in its name, it's not actually a diamond. Instead, this name is given to double terminated white or clear quartz. The value of a white quartz (even double terminated) pales in comparison to a real diamond. Quartz scratches much easier and doesn't have the sparkle or fire of a diamond.

That being said, there's nothing bad about purchasing a Herkimer Diamond. Just be aware that it isn't a real diamond, despite its name.

Quartz "Herkimer Diamond" credit: James St. John

Mexican Diamond

While diamonds are sold in Mexico, be careful when buying gemstones from the gem markets. Some may be advertised as a "Mexican Diamond", when it is actually rock crystals- or quartz.

Strass Diamonds

Strass Diamonds advertise themselves as a diamond imitation or diamond simulant. Since they disclose it, it's up to you to do the research to know what a strass diamond is: glass. 

Other colorless gemstones are commonly associated with the word "diamond" like:

  • Moissanite diamonds
  • Cubic zirconia diamonds
  • Swarovski crystal diamonds

But those names all still say their gem name. A Strass Diamond is a faceted piece of clear glass. It claims to be cut to the same specifications as a GIA certified gemstone, but its glass. Glass is a soft material, meaning it's easily scratched-unlike a real diamond.

Arkansas Diamond

You might not hear this gem trade name often, but I do want to expand on the differences between a genuine diamond from Arkansas and an "Arkansas Diamond".

Arkansas is home to the world-famous Diamond Crater park. It's the only place in the United States where you are able to mine your own rough diamonds. Many exciting and valuable discoveries have been unearthed by visitors to the park. 

Very cool, and definitely on my bucket list.

But in this case, we're talking about the name Arkansas Diamond being referred to a stone that is in fact, rock crystal. Rock crystal is another name for quartz. Many gem trade names with diamond in their titles are often rock crystal.

Less Popular Diamond Trade Names

  • Simili diamond — Glass
  • Saxon diamond — Clear Topaz Stone
  • Matura diamond — Colorless Zircon Stones
  • Marmarosch diamond — Rock Crystals
  • Ceylon diamond — Colorless Zircon
  • Bohemian diamond — Clear Quartz/Rock Crystal
  • Alaska Diamond — Clear Quartz/Rock Crystal

Misleading Gemstone Names for Rubies

As one of the leading four gemstones, there are other gemstones that are given the name "ruby" in order to reach a target audience. These "rubies" are usually less valuable other red gemstones or imitations like red garnets or red spinel. Here are some of the most popular ones:

American Ruby

While many people strive to buy from American businesses, I wouldn't do that with an American Ruby. Small rubies have been found in America, but the best rubies come from across the seas.

If you run into an American ruby, you'll find out that it's more than likely to be pyrope or almandine garnet. In some cases, American Ruby can be another name for rose quartz, but you'd definitely see the difference between a red ruby and a light pink rose quartz stone.

Montana Ruby

The Ruby and Sapphire mines of Montana are very popular. However, these are very small rubies and mainly sapphire that is discovered by visitors. Make sure a Montana ruby is a piece of red corundum from Montana.

A Montana ruby can also be another name for a red garnet.

Read also: Ruby vs Red Garnet

Greenland Ruby Engagement Ring from Brilliant Earth

Balas Ruby

This gemstone trade name is still widely used today, unlike some of the other ones. The main reason for this is because colored gemstones used to be identified by their color, not by the crystal structure.

Very early on in gemstone discovery, there were many red gemstones given the name ruby. Some very large and famous "rubies" were determined to be garnets and red spinels. It was discovered until years later, after we'd developed the equipment for gemstone identification.

Loose Almandine Red Garnet

Rough Red Spinel credited Can Pac Swire

Balas rubies are Afghan gems from the mines of Badakshan, Afghanistan. They aren't rubies, but light red to pink toned spinel stones. Red spinel is known for coming from other places, but there's not much about the Afghanistan gems.

So, they needed a catchy name to sell these spinels to potential customers. Ere go, balas ruby.

Brazilian Rubies

Brazil isn't famous for its rubies, but they do mine them on a smaller scale than their other gemstone businesses. It's unlikely you'll run into a ruby from Brazil when buying rubies online.

So, if you see a listing named Brazilian ruby, you'll want to verify that it's a real ruby. "Brazilian ruby" can also be the gemstone business names for red topaz and pink topaz stones.

Cape Ruby

You may be familiar with cape diamonds, which are actually real diamonds. However, those diamonds have lower color grades than traditional colorless and near colorless diamonds. They are the bridge between "colorless diamonds" and fancy yellow colored diamonds. They are also found in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape rubies, are not rubies at all. A gemstone referred to as a "cape ruby" is a pyrope garnet. Unlike highly saturated and high clarity rubies, pyrope garnets are much less common and valuable gemstones.

Other Gemstone Business Names for Rubies

Here are other trade names for rubies and what they actually are:

  • Arizona Ruby — Pyrope Garnet
  • Adelaide Ruby — Almandine Garnet
  • Californian Ruby — Hessonite Garnet
  • Bohemian Ruby — Pyrope Garnet or Rose Quartz
  • Siberian Ruby — Red tourmaline

Popular Trade Names for Emeralds and Sapphire

  • Lithia Emerald — Hiddenite
  • African Emerald — Green Fluorite
  • Ural Sapphire — Blue Tourmaline
  • Brazilian Sapphire — Blue Tourmaline

Popular Trade Names for Topaz Gemstones

Topaz stones makes great jewelry. They're not as hot commodity gemstones like the core 4, but they come in a range of different colors. Some shades like Imperial Topaz or Blue Topaz are valued higher than others.

Smoky Topaz

One could assume that a smoky topaz stone would be a grayish brown topaz gemstone. Well, that one would be wrong. The gemstone business trade name "smoky topaz" is another name for smoky quartz.

Smoky quartz has become a staple alongside new age practices with crystals and gemstone healing, so you might not hear this trade name for much longer. Quartz is often deemed low in value, but the name topaz gave it more flair.

Madeira Topaz

Though Madeira topaz isn't often used as a trade name anymore, it's still possible to find citrine stones with this name. It seems the trade name is used less as more people are becoming familiar with the term Madeira Citrine.

Citrine stones with this title have orange hues instead of the light golden hues citrine is known for.

Other Topaz Gemstone Business Names

  • Oriental topaz — Yellow sapphire
  • Palmyra topaz — Lab Grown Brown Sapphire
  • Salmanca topaz — Citrine (quartz)
  • Serra topaz — Citrine

Yellow Sapphire Engagement Ring in Rose Gold


For the most part, customers and the jewelry trade agree on names for different gemstone varieties. Purple quartz is known in the jewelry trade as amethyst. But there are trade names that have been given to different stones in order to make them seem more appealing to customers.

While not illegal, trade names can be misleading for people shopping in unregulated markets like on Facebook or Etsy. Keywords and other words synonymous with higher search rankings can also be listed in the description, without even selling the product.

That's why every buyer should be aware of any trade names or gemstone fakes before purchasing a gem from anywhere.

Hopefully you've found this guide helpful, especially if you're in the habit of frequenting gem markets or online gem show sales. As always, stay safe and happy gem hunting!

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