A couple of weeks ago, my WalletPop colleague Tom Barlow wrote an interesting piece on gemstones. He pointed out that "there are beautiful, durable gemstones that offer more bang for your buck." I couldn't agree more. In addition to moissanites, tsavorite garnets, and black prince rubies, the three gems he mentioned, I would suggest that the intrepid gem collector also check a few other lesser-known stones:
Quartzes: Yes, the rocks that litter your yard can also produce a very durable and exquisitely beautiful gemstone. If you like clear stones, you might just take a peek at a quartz crystal, but I prefer the dark romance of smoky quartzes, the buoyant beauty of pink quartzes, the rich color of amythysts, and the nicotine/urine-colored tones of citrines. Quartz picks up mineral deposits beautifully, hence the amazing array of colors that it offers. If you know a good jeweler or gem-cutter, you might even be able to find a quartz with an inclusion. Some of these are incredibly dramatic.
Tourmalines: Tourmalines come in a wide variety of colors, including pink, yellow, blue, and a rich array of greens. They can range from playful and bright to incredibly intense. One of the first unset gemstones that I ever bought was a moss-green tourmaline whose color reminded me of absinthe. I have a richly-colored emerald ring; next to it, my tourmaline looks mysterious and woodsy.