Gemstone Effects in Antique Jewelry

Gemstone Effects in Antique Jewelry

Antique and vintage jewelry is respondent with beautiful, sparkling gemstones. If you are shopping for early gemstone jewelry, it pays to be familiar with the terms.

Here is an overview:


The ability of the stone to draw light apart into its constituent colors. This is seen in diamonds.

Schiller or ‘Play of Color’

The Interior of the stone shows flickers of color when it is moved in the light. This is seen in opals.


The ability of the stone to turn ultraviolet light into visible color.  This is seen in some diamonds and rubies.


A flash of a blue and golden color when the stone is moved in the light. This is seen in Labradorite.

Change of color

Appearing as a different color in different lights. This is seen in Alexandrite and some tourmalines.


Rainbow effects include schiller and labradorescence. This is seen in mother-of-pearl and some agates and obsidian).

Opalescence / Adularescence / Milkiness

Subtle iridescence caused by scattering of light.  This is seen in opal, moonstone, some agate, and milky quartz.


Inclusions that create internal sparkles. This is seen in quartz and aventurine.

Chatoyancy / Cat’s Eye

A bright reflective line in the stone. This is seen in Tiger’s Eye, Cat’s Eye.


When the cat’s eye effect shows in two or three directions at once. This is seen in star sapphire and corundum.

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