Gemmological Commission report previews release
of comprehensive list of gemstone variety names


With fewer than four weeks to go to the opening of the 2023 CIBJO Congress in Jaipur, India, on October 3, 2023, the seventh of the pre-congress Special Reports has been released. Prepared by the CIBJO Gemmological Commission, headed by Hanco Zwaan, the report previews the presentation of the first edition of a gem materials list, including accepted variety names, with detailed definitions for each.

“Although the names of mineral species are defined by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), the organisation has never addressed the names of mineral varieties,” noted Dr. Zwaan in the report. “Consequently, in the gemstone trade, the validity of certain variety names, and also the differences between variety names and trade names has become unclear.”

The document that will be presented at the congress will list in alphabetic order names and definitions of gemstones, each with with a short description, and a clarification whether it is an accepted mineral name, a gemstone variety name or a commercial name. It was compiled by the CIBJO Committee on Varietal Names, which was an ad hoc body established at the previous CIBJO Congress in 2021.

One of the challenges faced by the committee was defining the borders that separate different gemstone varieties. “Examples include the lines that separates ruby from pink sapphire, and the differences between padparadscha and pink or orange sapphire, or fancy sapphire, in relation to colour stability. So are the borderlines between aquamarine, green beryl and emerald, and standards to describe what can be considered to be jade,” Dr. Zwaan writes.

“During our work thus far, it became clear that it is often difficult to reach consensus. Depending on the specific distinction criteria that will be discussed [at the congress], other experts will be asked for their input as well, to find the best solutions possible,” he states.

To download a full copy of the CIBJO Gemmological Commission’s Special Report, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

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