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50 Shades of Green

50 Shades of Green
May 31, 2013 Barbara Schwartz

Like our gardens, this spring’s fashions are green all over, with shades ranging from deep colors such as forest and emerald, Pantone’s color of the year, to pastels such as mint and seafoam. With so many options, you’re bound to find the perfect shade for your hair color and skin tone. If you don’t want to go for the head-to-toe look in green, stylists recommend introducing this color into your wardrobe with accessories. I’ve already written about emerald, so this post will discuss a few other examples of green gemstones. Fortunately, thanks to the producers of glass beads and stones and of early plastics, you can find vintage costume jewelry in many more shades of green than Mother Nature created. Take a look on the TruFaux Jewels website, for a wide selection of green pieces produced from the 1920s through the 1950s.


The gemstone jade is actually two types of gemstones: jadeite and nephrite. Both types occur in a wide variety of colors, and the greens range from light green with white markings to rich emerald, which is known as imperial jade. Genuine jade (the natural mineral) has been highly prized in China and Japan for centuries. Genuine and imitation (man-made) jade were both popular in Art Deco jewelry for two reasons. First, the stone connotes the Orient and Egypt, which were both influences on the style. Second, contrasting colors were another characteristic of Art Deco, and jade provides an attractive contrast to other gemstones (both genuine and imitation) that were fashionable in that era:  onyx, diamond and carnelian, for example. Imitation jade stones and beads made from glass or early plastics (such as Bakelite) were smooth, moulded, or both moulded and pierced. They were made into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, buckles, clips and finger rings. The earrings shown here feature molded and pierced glass that creates the look of jade. You can see a complete description and detailed photos of these earrings here.


The gemstone chrysoprase, the most valued variety of chalcedony, is translucent and apple-green in color. The use of chrysoprase as a decorative stone dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who carved it into cameos and intaglios. This gemstone, which was also popular in the Art Deco era, was often imitated in glass. Both forms were typically made into beads or cabochon-cut stones (i.e., a smooth top without facets, either rounded or flat, with a flat base). Chrysoprase was a typical material used in the Art Deco costume jewelry produced in both North America and Europe. Many particularly fine examples, such as this necklace, were made in Germany. Detailed photos and a description of this necklace are here.


Peridot, a gem variety of the mineral olivine, ranges in color from olive-green to yellowish-green.  According to Cally Hall (author of Gemstones), the “Crusaders brought peridot to Europe in the Middle Ages from St. John’s Island in the Red Sea, where it had been mined for over 3,500 years”. Peridot has been used in jewelry since antiquity and was especially popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. This 1950s brooch by Elsa Schiaparelli features unusually-shaped peridot and pale sapphire glass stone flower petals.  See detailed photos and a description of this brooch here.

For More Information on Gemstones

You can find more information about these and other gemstones on the Gem Encyclopedia website.

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