Suppose you need to get a special gemstone for yourself or for someone special. You can try to buy one with no background experience and end up with a poor quality stone or with a wrong dimension cut. Some jewelry stores only stock these types because they are cheap and available in mass quantities.
At HUBERT, you will find high quality stones, which can be delivered with its certificate of authenticity. Buying jewelry can be a fun and gratifying experience. However, there are many factors to consider before you purchase a beautiful, new piece of jewelry:
The first thing to consider is the type of jewelry that will be appropriate. For example, should it be a bracelet, a ring, a necklace, or earrings? Consider the pieces of jewelry that you currently own. What other pieces will you need complement the existing collection? If there are already many rings in the collection, why not consider a pair of earrings? Often, the best way to build and complement a jewelry collection is to create ensembles. What pieces are missing from your ensemble or the collection of the intended recipient?
The next thing you should consider is the type of metal the jewelry is made of. Will it be yellow gold, white gold or platinum? Will it be 14-Karat gold or 18-Karat gold? Although white metals, such as white gold and platinum have become very popular lately, yellow gold still accounts for a substantial portion of gold jewelry sales. The best way to buy jewelry for you or as a gift for someone else is to consider the purchase as part of a program. For example, if a person has no white gold jewelry but you feel the person will enjoy white gold, use the many occasions that come up during the year to build the ensemble. Whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else, this is a great way to really enjoy the gifts you give and receive, rather than selecting random items with no theme.
Exotic stones like tanzanite and tourmalines are extremely popular today. Another gem consideration are birthstones or anniversary stones. Every month or anniversary has a gemstone associated with it. Even diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires have the months of April, May, July and September, respectively, associated with them. Of course, don’t forget pearls. Pearls are a popular gift for brides to wear on their wedding day, as well as for girls to receive on their sixteenth birthday. Check the birthstone or anniversary calendar in our education center.
Here are some guidelines you should know when purchasing loose or mounted gemstones:
The most common gemstone shapes include:
Gem cutters try to select shapes and cutting styles which allow them to emphasize preferred colors and brilliance, minimizing undesirable flaw, and/or get the maximum weight yield from the rough.
When you buy a gemstone, be sure to look at its profile. The side view can indicate:
Please, take a moment to observe the pictures A, B and C and pay attention to the light reflection:
As you can see, on the picture A we have a Ideal Cut which reflects light to the same directions that it came from. This is what makes a good play of light and color off the facets.
On the pictures B and C, the light will alternate its course to different direction, which will make its brilliance decay to a lower level, or even make the face up view with an extremely large window through which print is visible as you can see in the picture.
Color is the single most important determinant of value in colored stones. Second most important is cut, which maximizes the gemstone’s life and brilliance. Generally, the more a gemstone approximates its pure spectral color, the more desirable it is. And the better the cut, the better the depth of color and the liveliness of the stone.
There are numerous other characteristics that contribute to the quality and value of colored gems. These include:
Brilliance – The intensity with which a stone catches the light and displays life.
Beauty – How it enhances one’s appearance – closely related to its color.
Durability – The stone’s ability, when set in jewelry, to withstand normal wear.
Rarity – The available supply. The harder to get, the more it costs.
Demand – High demand may overshadow other factors and drive up a gem’s price.
Tradition – Using gems for adornment, symbolism or as a means of exchange.
Portability – In times of turmoil, gems are an investment that can be readily moved.
Color is affected by a number of variables. It is primarily affected by light – both the type and the intensity. And clearly, color is a very subjective matter in terms of what is considered attractive and desirable. The best approach is combining the eye and the brain – along with years of experience in the colored-stone business.
Generally, the closer a colored stone comes to being the pure spectral hue of that color, the better the color and the more valued the stone. The spectral colors (remember the rainbow?) go from pure red to pure violet. They don’t include white, black, gray or brown, but these colors affect the tone of color seen, and ultimately the grading.
Factors commonly used to describe color:
Hue – the precise spectral color
Intensity – the brightness or vividness
Tone – the lightness or darkness
Distribution – the consistency or evenness of color distribution
Saturation – the depth and richness of color
Also consider that a good lapidary (gem cutter) who optimizes the proportions of the cut brings out a fine stone’s maximum intensity and color, making it very desirable. A poor cut significantly reduces the stone’s vividness and depth of color. In general, gemstones that are either very light (pale) or very dark sell for less per carats. For example, a rich, deep color is desirable, but you don’t want it to approach black.
A stone’s color can appear to change depending on the kind of light and the environment in which you’re viewing it. For example, a ruby will not look as red under fluorescent lighting as it will under ordinary incandescent lights or daylight. In colored stones, the color may not always be evenly distributed throughout the stone, but instead exist in zones, layers or spots, giving the appearance of color in areas of the stone that are actually colorless. This is sometimes observed in amethyst, ruby and sapphire. The evenness and complete saturation of color will greatly affect the value of a colored gem.
As with diamonds, clarity refers to the stone’s purity or absence of internal inclusions (tiny spots, fractures or anything trapped within the crystal). However, while clarity is important, there is less expectation for a colored stone to be free of natural markings. Depending on the type of gemstone, the absence of inclusions can be even more rare than a flawless diamond – and command a higher cost per carats. It really varies with the gemstone: an emerald will always have inclusions, but a blue topaz should be very clear.
The lighter the stone, the more visible inclusions will be. In a darker stone, they may be masked by deeper color, and thus matter less. Of greater concern in colored gems is the type and placement of inclusions. A large crack (called a feather) near the surface of a stone makes it less durable and disrupts the play of light, detracting from the value. But a small, unobtrusive fracture will have minimal effect on the gem’s durability, beauty and value. And some natural markings can be desirable to the degree that they validate the origin or variety of the stone.
Cut and proportion in colored stones impacts the depth of color seen in the stone and the liveliness projected by the stone. Unlike diamonds, there is no “ideal cut” for colored stones. They are cut to maximize weight recovery and consistency of color from the rough crystal. Also, while cut is important for any gemstone, the criteria for judging cut quality in colored stones and diamonds is quite different. Oftentimes the proportions needed to produce the best color in a stone would be considered quite poor if that stone were a diamond.
All gems are priced by the carats, except pearls and coral. Normally the greater the weight, the greater the value per carats (under 50 carats) However, certain stones, such as amethyst, garnet, and topaz, become less valuable per carats if they are so big they cannot be mounted. Also, weight and size are not the same thing. Some stones weigh more than others, as the density (specific gravity) of the basic mineral is heavier. Consider:
Rubies and sapphires weigh 20% more than diamonds.
Emeralds weigh 20% less than diamonds.
If a diamond weighs 1.00 carats, the same size ruby or sapphire would weight approximately 1.20 carats, and the same size emerald would weigh approximately .80 carats.
Also consider that some stones are readily available in large sizes while others are not. Scarcity of particular sizes among the different colored stones will dictate what is considered “large” in the market, affecting price. Like diamonds, colored stones of less than one carats sell for less per carats than stones of a full carats or more. But again, what’s considered “large” or “rare” differs with the stone.
Colored stones are actually measured in the industry by dimensions in millimeters in addition to carats weight. Millimeter size of the stone often matters more – especially in matching colored stones for a ring, earrings, or other types of jewelry.
In short, when evaluating a colored gem for purchase, ask yourself:
Is the shade of color attractive?
Does the stone have brilliance and life?
Is the color too dark or too light?
Is the stone uniformly brilliant, or does it have “flat” areas with no life?
Overall, does it appeal to you?
We hope that our basic guide could help you to understand the basics of jewelry. If you still have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.