This is a visual shorthand trope that makes gems identifiable on sight, often reducing gems to Palette Swaps
of each other. In Real Life
, there are many features that differentiate minerals, gemstones, precious metals, and organic gems from each other: hardness, smoothness, clarity, a range of possible
colors, and location found. But the only feature the audience can directly see for themselves, and that most people outside of geologists are readily familiar with, is color. Therefore, gems in fiction will often be identified solely by color, with a standard set of gem-color associations dictating the types of gems. The gems may be identical aside from the differences in color.
Generally, the code is as follows:
- Ruby: Red
- Sapphire: Blue
- Topaz: Orange (or Yellow)
- Amber: Yellow (or Orange)
- Emerald: Green
- Amethyst: Purple
- Onyx: Black
- Diamond: White or clear, possibly with light blue or yellow mixed in
- Gold: Yellow, orange, or tannish
- Silver: Medium to light gray, possibly with a little blue mixed in (often trading places with platinum in regards to which is light gray and blue-gray.)
See also the Birthstones in the Real Life section for more.
Often these gemstones are seen together as a set of Mineral Macguffins
. When it's more generalized (i.e. all red gems are rubies, all orange gems are topaz all the way down the rainbow), it's never brought up why there's so much mineral diversity in one area. If a gemstone is not
the usual color, that is usually a plot relevant detail
If there's gemstone Theme Naming
going on, this trope functions in essentially the same way as Color-Coded for Your Convenience
. "Ruby" is synonymous with "Fancy Red" and so on. This may also double as Fancy Color Coded Elements
, such as having a Fire Ruby.
A subtrope to Color-Coded for Your Convenience
for gemstones. It can be related to One Steve Limit
, Color-Coded Characters
and Color-Coded Elements
. A sister trope to All-Natural Gem Polish
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Anime And Manga
- Yugioh GX has the Crystal Beasts, a group of monsters that are based on the following Gemstones:
- Ruby Carbuncle: Red
- Amber Mammoth: Orange
- Topaz Tiger: Yellow
- Emerald Tortoise: Green
- Sapphire Pegasus and Cobalt Eagle: Different shades of Blue
- Amethyst Cat: Purple
- Played with somewhat in The Stormlight Archive, where there are ten gemstones used in Soulcasting; each gemstone can transmute a certain element, and the association is based mainly on the commonality of colour between them. In order, with colours and elements listed, the gemstones are: Sapphire, blue, any clear gas. Smokestone, black, any opaque gas. Ruby, red, fire. Diamond, white, crystal. Emerald, green, plant matter. Garnet, rusty red, blood. Zircon, yellow, oil. Amethyst, purple, metal. Topaz, brown, stone. Heliodor, golden, flesh.
Live Action TV
- Kamen Rider Wizard has a set of jewelled Rings Of Power that are color-coded to each of his forms, but the gems are never actually identified as ruby, sapphire, etc.; in fact, they all seem to be variations of the same material, which is simply called "magic stone". (Except for the diamond-like Infinity Ring, which formed from his tears, or, somehow... it's magic, okay?) Fans may still use "ruby", "sapphire", "emerald", "amber", and "diamond" to describe them, however.
- In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Casey Novak catches a suspect in a lie on the stand with this. The suspect says she was born in January, but Casey notices the class ring she's wearing wasn't a red Garnet, but a blue Sapphire (the victim's ring.) It also never occurred to Casey that some schools let students choose gems based on school colors, either.
- Aoki Lapis is named for the Lapis Lazuli Gemstone and has a color scheme of blue and purple.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has the Gem-Knight cards (a Homage to the Elemental Hero archetype and the above-mentioned Crystal Beasts) which are named for and usually colored after a Gemstone (The exception is Gem-Knight Lazuli and maybe Gem-Knight Sardonyx) Their leader Gem-Knight Master Diamond has white armor and an All Your Colors Combined Rainbow Motif sword and background.
- Child of Light: Follows the code for Red Ruby, Blue Sapphire, Green Emerald, Purple Amethyst, White Diamond, and Black Onyx. Yellow/Orange is Citrine instead of Topaz and Cyan is Tourmaline. Egregiously, you get stones by fusing different stones together like mixing colors. A ruby fused with a sapphire gives you amethyst, despite rubies and sapphires being the same mineral already just different colors. Further some of them double with Color-Coded Elements, ruby is fire aligned, sapphire water, emerald thunder and earth, citrine light.
- F-Zero GX: The four racing cups are Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond. Red, Blue, Green and a pale Yellow respectively.
- Zig-zagged with The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One. In addition to having all the common gemstones and colors, the game includes a variety of other jewels, as one puzzle revolves around birthstones. One of the first items the player can pick up is a bright red garnet, and the first green-colored stone the player is likely to see is a peridot. The rubies and emeralds are trickier to acquire.
- The Legend of Zelda: Tends to do this for their goddess related objects.
- Neverwinter Nights has gemstones which all follow the stock-standard colors mentioned in the description.
- Minecraft: Emeralds are a conventional green, diamonds are light blue, and quartz is white. Lapis lazuli is so blue that it's used as blue dye. Redstone has a red color and appears to give off some kind of electricity or some other kind of energy.
- In Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, the gemstones Nancy must find to operate a device not only look exactly as this trope predicts, but exactly like the pictures of their type in a book Nancy acquires.
- Pokιmon: The original Generation I games were Red, Green, and Blue. For Generation III, which was essentially a continuity reboot (couldn't link back to Gen I/II games, and included updated Retcon remakes of Gen I,) started with Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald.
- Gen IV's Diamond Version was a pale blue.
- One dungeon in Shining the Holy Ark has the player collecting different coloured gem stones to use in a Solve the Soup Cans puzzle. The only way to figure out what gem went where was were was if you knew what the stock colours of the gems where.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Master Emerald which stands alone, is green. The Chaos Emeralds are a set of seven, only one is green and the others are differentiated by color. Given the Real Life example below they should probably be called Chaos Beryl instead.
- Final Fantasy IX has the twelve birthstone jewels as equipped accessories, with their menu icons appropriately colored. Dissidia: Final Fantasy includes the same items as trade accessories, minus the Garnet and Amethyst.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: The seven Crystal Stars that must be collected throughout this game are colored this way. The Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Garnet stars are white, green, red, blue and orange, respectively. The third Crystal Star, which is yellow, is not a named after a gemstone at all; rather than being named after a yellow gem like topaz, it's simply called the Gold Star despite not being metal. The final Crystal Star is a iridescent white color that's even shinier than the Diamond Star, but it's merely called the Crystal Star rather than being named after any crystal in particular.
- Diablo II:
- You could find the six gems that are explained in their description, each with the colour that it's said in the description. What's more, adding them to Socketed Equipment gives it a glow of the colour of the gem, and some of them (to be precise, ruby, sapphire, topaz and emerald) are associated with elements, adding damage of that element in weapons and resistance to the element in shields (ruby is fire, sapphire is cold, topaz is lightning and emerald is poison). The other two (diamond and amethyst) aren't, though.
- The Soulstones. Mephisto's is blue, Diablo's is red, and Baal's is yellow-green.
- In World of Warcraft this was averted at first and later played straight. While largely following the basic colors, the original game had unique icons for each type of gem and they were limited to specific tiers of ore deposits. With the introduction of the Jewelcrafting profession gems it not only became common to find up to twelve different types of gems in one type of mineral, but their icons were also standardized so that within a tier of gems the only visual difference is the color.
- In Runescape, there are blue sapphires, red rubies, green emeralds, white diamonds, and black onyx. But there are also quest-related gems that are different in color (blood diamond is red, smoke diamond is gray, shadow diamond is black, ice diamond is light gray). Lastly, jade, opal and diamond are in ridiculously similar color. You can have a reference here.
- NetHack plays this one dead straight, with a few exceptions - there's two possibilities each for turquoise and aquamarine (green or blue), and fluorite is randomly assigned either green, blue, white or violet. All gems are just "< colour > gem" until identified, so an unidentified "red gem" can't turn out to be sapphire, which is a blue gem.
- Dwarf Fortress has diamonds of five colours as well as clear, and also blue, clear and pink garnets in addition to red, and so on and so forth. It assigns the standard colors to emerald, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, topaz and quite a few others, though.
- In My Sims, the six Interests - Fun, Tasty, Geeky, Cute, Studious, and Spooky - each have a related gem-themed Essence. Theres yellow Topaz for Fun, orange Amber for Tasty, blue Sapphire for Geeky, pink Garnet (a notably rare color for this particular gem) for Cute, green Jade for Studious, and purple Amethyst for Spooky.
- The Rune Factory series has purple amethysts, red rubies, green emeralds, and white diamonds. However, it also has deep blue aquamarines, so the sapphires end up being pink instead of the usual blue.
- Ginormo Sword has gems as enemy drops which are used to apply elemental power to your weapons and armor:
- In Mother Load, when you're digging underground emeralds are green, rubies are red and diamonds are white, which helps you decide which ones you should collect.
- The Web Game Tower Core features a puzzle involving eight colored gemstones. Each gem has a specific name, with citrine for yellow and obsidian for black.
- Terraria includes purple amethysts, yellow topaz, blue sapphires, green emeralds, red rubies and white diamonds, the value, rarity and the quality of items crafted with those gems are in that same order (as in a diamond magic staff or grappling hook is superior to a ruby one). Amber can also be found but only by putting silt or slush into an Extractinator.
- The 8 Disaster Stones in Cucumber Quest have each a color, symbol and element.
- Birthstones are most popular/valuable/expensive in specific colors, and are the Trope Codifier
- January Birthstone Garnet - Deep Red
- February Birthstone Amethyst - Purple
- March Birthstone Aquamarine - Light Blue
- April Birthstone Diamond - White or Clear
- May Birthstone Emerald - Green
- June Birthstone Pearl - White or Cream
- July Birthstone Ruby - Red
- August Birthstone Peridot - Yellow-Green
- September Birthstone Sapphire - Blue
- October Birthstone Opal - White or Pink
- November Birtstone Topaz - Orange
- December Birthstone Turquoise - Blue-Green
- The range of colors for some minerals is limited and the trope usually reflects that. For example:
- Rubies and sapphires are actually the same material (corundum). The only difference is that rubies are the red kind, and sapphires are other colors (including but not exclusively the blue kind). The only other color besides red that gets a specific name are orangish ones calls padparadscha.
- Similarly emeralds are specifically the green variety of beryl. Each other color of Beryl has its own name, blue-green is aquamarine, dark blue is maxixe, yellow is heliodor, pink is morganite, colorless is goshenite, and the extremely rare and valuable red is called Bixbite. If it's faintly green but not enough to be an emerald it's simply called beryl.
- Amethyst and citrine are both quartz with iron impurities; in citrine the iron is triply ionized (Fe3+), while in amethyst it's quadruply ionized (Fe4+).
- Tourmaline comes in just about every imaginable color: a tourmaline crystal is fairly likely to have several colors in different spots in the same crystal. One of the most valuable types, Watermelon Tourmaline, literally starts red, shades into colorless, then turns green just like a watermelon.
- Real life diamonds with perfect structure and no impurities are totally transparent and colorless. However with impurities they can be in all kinds of colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, indigo, violet, magenta. What's more, even gray and black diamond existsnote , leaving the only missing color white.
- While theoretically possible, nobody has ever found a true violet diamond. The same impurity that grants violet color also causes gray, and so all known violets are very grayed out and muted.
- Gold has many different colored alloys. White and rose gold are commonly known, but there are other possible colors, including black. Electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) can apparently be greenish sometimes. There are even blue and violet alloys, though the compositions of these alloys make their atomic structure less metallic and kind of brittle, so they're more often used as cut stones instead.
- And if you make the gold into really small cross-sections, you can mess with its color without changing its composition. Colloidal gold can be pretty much any spectral color, depending on the size of the nanoparticles, and was traditionally used to make a (very expensive) deep red glaze. If you hammer a piece of gold into thin, transparent sheets and look through them, everything turns blue-green!
- Enforced with jade commodities, since a lot of the finished pieces on the market are either dyed or injected with green wax. Rough jade, however, can be black, yellow, lilac, white, and even translucent. In fact, the most valuable pieces in ancient China were made of WHITE jade, green jade being seen at the time as gaudy trinkets from the barbarians to the South (that is, Burma).
- Topaz is a relatively common mineral, but most of it is pretty much colorless. Saturated yellow and orange topazes are only found in a few places in the world. There is blue topaz, but it's incredibly rare to find it naturally. Two of the few places you can find them are Brazil's famous Minas Gerais mines, and Mason County in Texas. There's even a violet topaz that gets lumped in with the designation of imperial (high quality orange or yellow whose color changes slightly depending on the viewing angle), but that's even rarer than natural blue topaz.
- Garnets are generally represented as deep red, but they can come in almost any color. The generic formula for a garnet's chemical structure is X3Y2(SiO4)3, where "X" is a divalent cation (such as calcium, Fe2+, or manganese), and "Y" is a trivalent cation (such as aluminum, Fe3+, or chromium). The most common garnets are in the "pyralspite" group (pyrope, almandine, and spessartine) they all have aluminum in the "Y" slot, and are various shades of red. The second most common "ugrandite" group (all with calcium in the "X" slot) can be red, orange, brown, green, yellow, or black. Rarer (or completely synthetic) formulas with less common elements in the "X" and "Y" slots (and sometimes even replacing one or more of the silicate ions) can produce almost any other color, or (most notably in the case of yttrium aluminum garnets) no color at all.