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Color-Coded Stones

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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, even if there's color variance between gems of the same kind in real life. 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 & Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 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

    Card Games 
  • 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.

    Comic Books 

  • 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. Per Word of God, the author wanted to sort the stones by their material and elemental composition, only to discover that most gemstones are almost identical from a material perspective.
  • The Eye of Argon averts this with its infamous "scarlet emerald" - whether the author was aware of the existence of red beryl (see below) is unknown.

    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.) This in of itself doesn't prove anything, but she goes on to say the victim's ring was inscribed with her initials, and gets the judge to order the girl to have the ring examined. Realizing she's caught, the girl tells everything.

  • Aoki Lapis is named for the Lapis Lazuli Gemstone and has a color scheme of blue and purple.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Darkest Dungeon has loot items in the form of gems with varying colors. In the increasing order of their gold values, they are: yellow citrine, dull-green jade, black onyx, green emerald, blue sapphire, red ruby, and iridescent Puzzling Trapezohedron.
  • 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.
  • 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; given the ASCII graphics and the limited colour palette this is necessary.
  • Elona has six color-coded ores: gray junk stones, white mica, red rubies, yellow bars of gold, green emeralds and blue diamonds.
  • 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.
  • F-Zero GX: The four racing cups are Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond. Red, Blue, Green and a pale Yellow respectively.
  • Ginormo Sword has gems as enemy drops which are used to apply elemental power to your weapons and armor:
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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 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.
  • In MySims, the six Interests - Fun, Tasty, Geeky, Cute, Studious, and Spooky - each have a related gem-themed Essence. There’s 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.
  • 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.
  • In No Umbrellas Allowed, gems are identified by color, which you can verify by using the scanner Jane gives you. In some cases, a customer tells you the wrong kind of gem because a different gem has the same color as the assumed one (e. g. a green garnet being misidentified as an emerald).
  • 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.
  • In Roots Of Pacha, all the gemstones you can mine are given specific colors: dark red for jasper, red-orange for sardius, amber for agate, yellow-green for peridot, teal for beryl, dark blue for sapphire, and purple for amethyst.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Zigzagged in The Sims 3. Each gemstone only comes in one colour or colour scheme and gemstones which have been cut to the same shape are all palette swaps, but not all of them fit the standard colour code. As expected, you can find red rubies, green emeralds and white/colourless diamonds, however you can also collect blue topaz, grey (smoky) quartz, yellow sapphires and pink diamonds. You can also collect Tiberium, but only in its green form.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Both played straight and averted. 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.
    • The first level and Green Hill Zone of the original Sonic the Hedgehog is the Trope Namer, Green Hill Zone. The first level and Green Hill Zone of the sequel is Emerald Hill Zone.
    • In Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, the Chao race courses were all named after gemstones and the prize for winning is a medal following that color scheme.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • 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.
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has thirteen gemstones in each of its five areas, color-coded based on the "theme" of the mansion. Gloomy Manor, which has purple spiders, has purple amethysts; the botanical Haunted Towers has green emeralds; the desert-like Old Clockworks has red rubies; Secret Mine, the snowy region, has blue sapphires, and the diamonds in Treacherous Mansion are as white as King Boo.
  • 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). Orange amber can also be found but only by putting silt, slush or desert fossils into an Extractinator, but it cannot be crafted in to most of the same items as the other six.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Once cut, gemstones in World's Dawn are all identical except for color. Diamonds are white, sapphires are blue, amber is golden, and opals are black.note 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • 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 doubly ionized (Fe2+), while in amethyst it's triply ionized (Fe3+). This allows one to be turned into the other, by heat or radiation treatment, or even for both to exist together as part of the same gemstone.
  • 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 exists,note  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 (referred to as "mutton fat" 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 the diamond simulant yttrium aluminum garnets) no color at all.

Alternative Title(s): Colour Coded Stones