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.
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.
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 Amazonite. Despite its name, there is no known sources of Amazonite near its namesake, the Amazon River.
Another example is German Lapis, an uncommon, but not entirely infrequent, term used to refer to not lapis lazuli found in Germany, but blue jasper.
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!
Crystals and gemstones are nature's true beauties, but they are not a substitute for seeking professional medical, legal, health, or financial advice. Crystals and gemstones are to be used in conjunction with any professional care you are receiving and do not provide healing, cures, or other remedies modern medicine can provide. The information provided in our listings with regard to the powers of crystals and gemstones are all derived from personal & professional experience with crystals & gems as well as ancient wisdom and texts documenting knowledge gained from civilizations around the world. They are not backed by the FDA or scientific/government resources. Our crystals & gemstones are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or malady. Our crystals and gemstones are also not a replacement for seeking professional legal advice, financial advising, or any other field of professional expertise. Crystals and gemstones are intended to be appreciated for their natural power and beauty, and used alongside modern, professional methods.