Oh my goodness, Lynne! Really, there is no sure way to determine between the stone types you list without gemological equipment. One option is to send valuable, questionable stones to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
Any good gemstone identification book will tell about a natural gemstone’s properties, including any natural inclusions or flaws (such as feathers, silk, lily pads, etc.) that you can look for by using either a microscope or a 10x loupe.
Of course, there are a few home tests that are not to be counted on, such as:
One of the least expensive ways to help identify gemstones is to use a combination short and long wave, ultraviolet light, as described in this awesome book: Gem Identification Made Easy, by Antoinette Leonard Matlins. (If the link doesn’t pull up, go to books.google.com, and search for "Easy gemstone identification tests")
You could also find and join a local Rock and Mineral Club. There you will meet people with all types of knowledge about rocks, gems and fossils, as well as those with lapidary and jewelry making interests. Like me, they are always happy to "talk rocks."
Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong