Misnomers - That Stone Isn't What it Says it is

Misnomers - That Stone Isn't What it Says it is

Misnomers - That Stone Isn't What it Says it Is

Misnomers. The name incorrectly suggests what it is. Firefly, for example, is a misnomer, as a firefly is actually a beetle. Another famous one is the French horn, which isn't French. Though that's better than the cor anglais (English Horn), which is neither English nor a horn.

In short, they are everywhere and the gemstone community is no different. Often, gemstones are named in honor of someone else, but sometimes, a name sticks due to its resemblance to something else. This is a leading cause of misnomers in gemstones.

Image of raw, purple kunzite spudoemene specimens against a plain background

Famous Gemstone Misnomers

There are numerous gemstone misnomers. We'll line you up with a few easy ones first. Not long ago, we did a blog on chlorite and we touched on this topic briefly. In it, we mentioned prasiolite, which is commonly, and incorrectly, called green amethyst. By definition, there cannot be a green amethyst. Why not?

Amethyst is, firstly, a type of quartz. Amethyst is defined as a type of purple quartz like how citrine is defined as yellow quartz. What is prasiolite defined as? Green quartz.

Image of Amazonite three bracelets against a background with decorative floral scenery

For another Amethyst whammy, some refer to Kunzite as lithia amethyst. Kunzite is known for having lithium (since it is a variety of spodumene). But this would be an incorrect name as Kunzite isn't a variety of quartz.

That's not all, some people refer to smoky quartz as smoky topaz. Smoky topaz isn't even really a synonym, and is a misleading term that probably was used to make the stone seem even more valuable. Smoky topaz should be avoided in favor of smoky quartz.

Misnomers and Countries

So, while some of these names are misleading due to appearance or honest mistakes, others stem from confusion regarding location and origin. The most famous type of this is probably AmazoniteDespite its name, there is no known sources of Amazonite near its namesake, the Amazon River.

Another example is German Lapisan uncommon, but not entirely infrequent, term used to refer to not lapis lazuli found in Germany, but blue jasper.

Image of a collection of Rubellite in Quartz against a plain background | Crystal Gemstone Shop

Finally, there is the Siberian ruby. It's well-known now that some crown jewels once believed to be rubies were actually tourmalines, including those in Russia. Thus, this misnomer is probably an honest mistake. However, Siberian rubies are not rubies, but are instead red tourmalines, and, more specifically, rubellites.

Others to Consider

Here are a few other stones with misnomers!

Marcasite (Jewelry) | Pyrite*

Misnomer | Real Stone

Lithia Emerald | Green Spudomene (Hiddenite)

African Jade | Grossular

Yellow Emerald | Yellow Beryl

Bohemian Garnet | Pyrope

Arizona Ruby | Pyrope

*Marcasite is a real mineral. This refers to marcasite jewelry, which actually uses pyrite instead of marcasite.

The Wrap Up

These are just a few common stones with certain naming misconceptions. If you spot these names, keep in mind their history and origin! Not all of them are said with the purpose of misleading someone, as they could be honest mistakes or are just another way of referring to the stone. We hope you enjoyed this blog, thank you!








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