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Buying Colored Gemstones

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The Jewelry Hut
Jewelry and gems
The Buying Guide

Colored Gemstones

Buying colored gems

When you go to buy colored gemstones, you will find yourself immersed in color; every hue, every shade of the spectrum.  There has never been a more exciting time to search for a colored gem because there have never been so many alternatives. Whatever color you prefer, and whatever your budget, there is a sparkling natural gem waiting your discovery.
You will see new gems only newly discovered; emerald green garnet (tsavorite), blue and green tanzanite (technically, the green variety should be called green zoisite, since blue zoisite is what we know as tanzanite, “neon” tourmaline from Brazil (Paraiba, also called Hetorite) in blue and shades never seen before.  Sapphires abound in virtually every color, as do tourmaline.  Even diamond can now been seen in a wide variety of natural “fancy” colors (some at very “fancy” prices).
The new colors are exciting, but so are the new cuts; there are unusual shapes in both faceted and cabochon (or non-faceted cuts) cuts, “fancy” and “fantasy” cuts, “sculpted” cuts.
In the following we will present some of the most popular gemstones alternatives, by color, and guide to how they compare in terms of availability and wear-ability.  Then the gems will we discussed individually.

Guides to popular gems

The following charts show what gemstones are available in various colors, as well as their wear-ability, price, and availability.  In coming articles we will describe the gemstones; beginning with “precious” and followed alphabetically by the other popular gems families, and provide important information particular to each.  It should be noted that the terms precious and semi-precious are discouraged today since they can be misleading; rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are only “precious” in rare qualities, and there are many “semi-precious” gemstone today that are rarer and more valuable than so-called “preciousgems.
Cabochon cut gemstones often cost less than faceted gemstones.  Gems used in mass-produced jewelry sold in many jewelry stores (including online stores) are often “commercial” quality and may cost significantly less. Rare gems in exceptionally fine quality and rare gemstones of unusual size can sell for much more. If the price of a gem you are considering is usually high, it is strongly recommended to take extra steps to confirm its exceptional quality prior to purchase; including obtaining a quality grading report from the American Gemological Laboratory.
The guide’s purpose is twofold: to help you understand how prices for different gems in a given color compare with on another; and to demonstrate how significant the price range might be for a given type of stone, so that you will have a clearer understanding of the importance of quality differences.

How to use the following guides

The guides can be especially useful; and help you avoid mistakes, if you follow these steps:

  • Decide what color you want in a gem and then make a list of the gems available in that color.  If you want an emerald green gem, for example, and cannot afford emerald itself, you would use the guide to see what other similarly colored emerald green gems are available; tsavorite garnet, chrome tourmaline, or green tourmaline, green sapphire.
  • Compare their prices to get a sense of the relative cost of each.  In comparing prices for these green gems, you would immediately see that tsavorite garnet is the most expensive (but still much more affordable than emerald), chrome tourmaline is next in cost, then green tourmaline, and finally, the most affordable, green sapphire.
  • Note availability to determine how easy or difficult it might be to locate the particular gem you think you want.  In this example, you would see that of the choices, and might be difficult to find.
  • Note the range in price for the gemstones that interest you. The larger the price range in a given gemstone, the more critical any differences in quality becomes.  A wide price variance would indicate that you must be especially careful to spend time comparing and learning about the stone, developing an eye to spot subtle quality differences.
  • Read about each gem individually.  Now turn to the next articles (or click on each gems to link) and read about each (or particular gems) of the gems you’re considering individually.  You may find there is something about the stone, its history, mythology, or wear-ability, that makes it an even more interesting choice for you.  Here you will also learn if there is anything special you need to know, to look for or look out for, as you shop.

Now, you are ready to embark o a sparkling search. But always remember: being genuine does not mean a stone is “gem” or that it is “valuable.” A gem must be beautiful and rare, attributes that are related to quality.  The finer the quality, the more beautiful, and the more rare. The quality of an individual stone is what determines whether or not it is a “gem,” and it is the quality that determines its value. The range in price for any colored gemstone is directly related to quality differences; and it can be enormous. Be sure you have read the previous articles carefully, and understand the factor that determine quality before making any decision.
After reading these articles you will know what to ask the jeweler to show you.  But do not forget to a lot shopping and asking questions until you really have developed a feel for that particular stone and its market.

Gems alternatives by its color

Color family

Popular name of stone

Gem family

Red: from red to shades of pink

Ruby, red bluish to orange red
Garnet, several red color varieties
Pyrope, brownish red o red
Almandine, violet to pure red
Spessartite, orange red to reddish brown to brownish red
Rhodolite, red to violet
Spinel, red to brownish red and pink
Pink sapphire, pinkish red
Zircon, brownish red to deep, dark red
Sunstone, rich red to orange red
Scapolite, light red
Rubellite, red to violet red and pink
Red beryl, red
Morganite, pink to orange pink
Kunzite, violet pink to pink violet
Rose quartz, pure pink
Andalusite, pink to reddish brown
Diamond, all shade of pink and red

Corundum
Garnet
Garnet
Garnet
Garnet
Garnet
Spinel
Corundum
Zircon
Feldpar
Scapolite
Tourmaline
Beryl
Beryl
Spodumene
Quartz
Andalusite
Diamond

Orange

 

Padparadshca sapphire, pinkish orange
Scapolite, orange
Sunstone, rich red to orange red
Topaz, brownish orange, yellow orange, pinkish orange
Spinel, brown to orange
Zircon, orange to golden brown
Hessonite, orange brown
Malaya, pink orange to brownish red
Tourmaline, orangy brown, yellow orange
Diamond, various shades including yellow-orange, to brownish orange

Corundum
Scapolite
Feldspar
Topaz
Spinel
Zircon
Garnet
garnet
Tourmaline
Dimaond

Yellow

 

Scapolite, yellow
Sapphire, yellow
Beryl, golden yellow
Sphene, green yellow to golden yellow to brown
Chrysoberyl, yellow, yellow green, yellow brown
Citrine, Yellow to Yellow brown
Grossularite, yellow to yellowish green to yellowish brown
Zircon, yellow to yellow brown
Diamond, all shades

Scapolite
Corundum
Beryl
Sphene
Chrysoberyl
Quartz
Garnet
Zircon
Diamond

Green

 

Emerald, yellowish green to bluish green
Tsavorite, yellowish green to bluish green
sphene, grass green to yellow green
Tourmaline, all shades of green
Peridot, yellow green to green
Zircon, green to yellow green to gray green
Alexandrite, daylight: bluish to bluish green; artificial light: Violet red
Sapphire, yellow green to blue green to gray green
Scapolite, greenish gray
Demantoid, yellow green to green green
Tanzanite, blue-green to yellow green to gray green

Beryl
Garnet
Sphene
Tourmaline
Peridot
Zircon
Chrysoberl
Corundum
Scapolite
Garnet
Diamond

Blue

 

Benitoite, blue to violet blue to gray blue
Sapphire, cornflower blue to greenish blue to inky blue
Tanzanite, violet blue
Spinel, gray blue, greenish blue, true pastel blue
Aquamarine, pastel to deep blue to blue green
Indicolite, inky blue, greenish blue
Paraiba, intense blue to violet blue to green blue
Topaz, pastel to dark blue to blue green
Zircon, pastel blue
Water sapphire, violet blue

Benitoite
Corundum
Zoisite
Spinel
Beryl
Tourmaline
Tourmaline
Topaz
Zircon
Iolite

Violet

 

Scapolite, violet blue to greenish blue to bluish gray, lilac to violet
Amethyst, lilac to violet to reddish purple to brownish purple
Sapphire, purple to violet
Rhodolite, red violet
Spinel, grayish violet to pure violet
Paraiba, violet to blue violet
Kunzite, pinkish violet to red violet

Scapolite
Quartz
Corundum
Garnet
Spinel
Tourmaline
Spodumene

Guide to popular gems and their approximate prices *

Family

Popular name

Color (s)

Approx. retail cost
per Carat * 

Brilliance

Wear-ability

Availability

Andalusite


 

Poor man’s alexandrite

 

Changes color from grayish green to reddish brown, emerald green to bright yellow

1 - 5 CT: $50 -$300
5 - 10 CT: $100 - $400

 

Good


 

Good


 

Large: Scarce
Smaller: Fair

 

Beryl (1)








 

Aquamarine
 

Golden beryl (heliodor)
 

Emerald
 

Morganite
 

Pastel blue to medium deep blue
 

Yellow;  brownish yellow

 

Yellow green to blue green
 

Pink to orange pink
 

1 t- 5 CT: $50 -$850
1 t- 5 CT: $50 -$850

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $125
5 - 10 CT: $75 - $200
10 - 20 CT: $100 - $500

1/2 - 1 CT: $1000 - $10,000
1 - 2 CT: $2000 - $18,000

1 - 5 CT: $75 - $200
5 - 10 CT: $200 - $800

Good
 

Good

 

Fair to Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good

 

Fair to Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good

 

Very fine Colombian: Rare
Others: Good

Fine: rare
Medium: Good

Chrysoberyl





 

Alexandrite
 

Chrysoberyl
 

Precious Cat’s eye
 

Changes from greenish in daylight to reddish in incandescent light

Yellow to yellow brown to yellow green
 

Greenish to brownish yellow with eye effect

1/2 - 1 CT: $2,000 - $13,000
1 - 2 CT: $3,000 - $18,000

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $150
5 - 10 CT: $75 - $300

1 - 3 CT: $600 - $3,600
3 - 5 CT: $1,200 - $5,000

Good
 

Good
 

Negligible
 

Excellent
 

Excellent
 

Excellent
 

Large: Scarce
Small: Fair

Fair
 

Fair to Good
 

Corundum


















 

Ruby (2)




 

Blue sapphire (2)

 

Colorless sapphire
 

Green sapphire
 

Pink sapphire
 

Yellow sapphire

 

Red to bluish or purplish red
to yellow red



 

Bright blue to inky blue

 

White (colorless)
 

Clear green to brownish or bluish green
 

Light to very dark pink (almost red
 

Yellow (most are heat treated; natural yellow usually less brilliant)

1/2 - 1 CT: $1,100 - $10,000
1 - 2 CT: $2,200 - $20,000



 

1/2 - 1 CT: $250 - $3,000
1 - 2 CT: $500 - $10,000
 

less than 1 CT: $25 -$50
1 - 1.5 CT: $50- $100

1 - 3 CT: $50 - $200
3 - 5 CT: $100 - $225

1 - 2 CT: $600 - $4,500
2 - 3 CT: $800 - $6,000

1 - 5 CT: $125 - $850
10 - 20 CT: $700 - $2,500
 

Fair to Good




 

Good

 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good

 

Excellent




 

Excellent

 

Very Good
 

Excellent
 

Excellent
 

Excellent

 

Burmese: Rare
Thai: Good
Kenya: Fair
Ceylon: Good
Cambodia: Fair
Vietnam: Fair

Kashmir: Scarce
Burmese: Scarce
Thai: Good

Australian: Good
Good in sizes less than 1 CT

Large: Scarce
Others: Fair

Fair
 

Good

 

Garnet



















 

Almandine
(common garnet)
 

Demantoid
 

Grossularite
 

Malaya
 

Pyrope
(common garnet)

Rhodolite
 

Spessartite
 

Tsavorite
 

Violet to pure red

 

Yellwo green to emerald green
 

Yellowish to yellowish green to yellowish brown

Pink orange to brownish red
 

Yellowish red to dark red
 

Red violet
 

Brownish orange to reddish brown to brownish red

Yellowish green to bluish green
 

1 - 3 CT: $10 - $50
3 - 5 CT: $25 - $50
5 - 20 CT: $50 -$100

1 - 2 CT: $800 - $8,000
2 - 3 CT: $2,000 - $12,000

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $150
5 - 10 CT: $125 - $350

1 - 5 CT: $85 - $400
5 - 10 CT: $250 - $500

1 - 5 CT: $10 - $75
5 - 10 CT: $25 - $100

1 - 5 CT: $25 - $225
5 - 10 CT: $75 - $450

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $600
5 - 10 CT: $75 - $800

1 - 2 CT: $600 - $2,500
2 - 3 CT: $1,000 - 3,600

Fair to Good

 

Very Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good

 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good

 

Poor
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Fair
 

Over 5 CT: Scarce
Other sizes: Fair to Good

Iolite
 

Water sapphire
 

Violet blue to gray blue
 

1 - 5 CT: $25 - $125
5 - 10 CT: $60 - $350

Good
 

Fair
 

Good
 

Pearls (3)
(cultured)



















 

Round (4)



 

South sea (round)



 

Baroque

 

Freshwater


 

Black/Gray
(round Tahitian)

 

Silver, silver white, pink white, white, cream


 

Silver, silver white, pink white, white, cream


 

White to creamy white

 

All colors


 

deep gray to black
(Not dyed)

 

16” - 18” strands
6-6.5 mm: $500 - $1,750
7-7.5 mm: $650 - $3,200
8-8.5 mm: $1,600 - $9,000
9-9.5 mm: $4,500 - $20000,

Prices per Pearl (5)
11-12 mm: $1,600 - $6,6600
12-13 mm: $2,200 - $7,500
14-15 mm: $5,000 - $12,000
16+ mm: $10,000 - $24,000

16” - 18” strands
7.5-8 mm: $400 - $1,200
8.5-9 mm: $500 - 1,600

16” - 18” strands
3-4 mm: $8 - $15
4-5 mm: $15 - $30
6-7 mm: $25 - $75

Prices per pearl (5)
8.5-9 mm: $500 - $1,200
10-10.5 mm: $1,100 - $2,500
11.5-12 mm: 43,500 - $6,000

Not Applicable



 

Not Applicable



 

Not Applicable

 

Not Applicable


 

Not Applicable


 

Good



 

Good



 

Good

 

Good


 

Good


 

Gem quality over 8 mm: Rare
Others: good

 

Gem quality: Very rare
Fine quality over 16 mm: Rare
Others: Fair-good
 

Good

 

Good


 

Small sizes: Fair
Large sizes: Rare

 

Peridot

 

Peridot

 

Yellow green to deep green to rich chartreuse
 

1 - 5 CT: $30 - $175
5 -10 CT: $85 - $300
10 - 20 CT: $100 - $650

Fair to Good

 

Fair, will scratch easily

 

Large: Scarce
Smaller: Plentiful

 

Quartz








 

Amethyst

 

Citrine
 

Rose quartz
 

Smoky
 

Purple, reddish purple to brownish purple
 

Yellow to yellow brown
 

Pure pink
 

Brown shades
 

1 - 5 CT: $10 - $75
5 - 10 CT: $10 - $85
10 - 20 CT: $15- $100

1- 5 CT: $10 - $50
5 - 25 CT: $25 - $75

Prices per stone
Most sizes: $2 - $15

Prices per stone
Most sizes: $2 - $15

Fair to Good

 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good

 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Very Good

 

Good
 

Good
 

Very Good
 

Spinel





 

Red spinel
 

Pink spinel
 

Blue spinel
 

Red to brownish red
 

Lively or bright pink to brown pink
 

Medium gray blue to deep deep blue to violet

1 - 3 CT: $200 - $2,800
3 - 5 CT: $400 - $3,900

1- 3 CT: $100 - $1,500
3- 5 CT: $150 - $1,800

1- 3 CT: $60 - $1,000
3- 5 CT: $100 - $1,200

Very Good
 

Very Good
 

Good
 

Very Good
 

Very Good
 

Very Good
 

Ruby red: Scarce
Others: good

Fair
 

Good
 

spodumene
 

Kunzite
 

Lilac, violet, pink
 

1 - 5 CT: $10 - $120
5 -20 CT: $35 - $175

Good
 

Poor for rings
 

Good
 

Topaz







 

Blue topaz
 

Pink topaz
 

Imperial
 

Yellow topaz
 

Blue
 

Pink (red also available, but very rare and much more expensive

Golden with pinkish/reddish overtone
 

Yellow /golden (no pink/red overtone)
 

1 - 5 CT: $6 - $35
5 - 20 CT: $10 - $40

1 - 3 CT: $125 - $850
3 - 5 CT: $175 - $950

1 - 3 CT: $100 - $800
3 - 5 CT: $150 - $900

1 - 5 CT: $75 - $400
5 - 20 CT: $150 - $550

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Fair
 

Fair
 

Fair
 

Good
 

Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Fair to Good except in very large sizes

Good
 

Tourmaline


















 

Chrome
 

Indicolite
 

paraiba
 

Pink
 

Rubellite
 

Verdelite



 


Bicolor & tricolor
 

Deep green
 

Inky blue to green
 

Wide range of “neon” blue, green, blue green and purplish

Pink or rose
 

Red to violet
 

Green, all shades except chrome tourmaline
 

Yellow, orange, and brown varieties

Red/black, red/green, red/green/colorless
 

1 - 3 CT: $150 - $1,400
3 - 5 CT: $300 - $1,600

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $1,000
5 - 10 CT: $150 - $1,200

Less than 1 CT: $300 - $1,000
1 - 3 CT: $750 - $12,500

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $450
5 - 10 CT: $120 - 650

1 - 3 CT: $150 - $1,400
3 - 5 CT: $300 - $1,600

1 - 3 CT: $40 - $240
3 - 5 CT: $50 - $320
5 - 20 CT: $100 - $500

1- 5 CT: $50 - $400

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $400
5 - 10 CT: $100 - $600

Good
 

Good
 

Excellent
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good



 


Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Fair to Good
 

Fair to Good



 

Fair to Good
 

Scarce
 

Good
 

Under 1 CT: Fair
Over 1 CT in fine quality: Scarce

Good
 

Good
 

Good



 

Good
 

Zircon












 

Zircon












 

pastel blue (usually heat treated)
 

Green to yellow green
 

Colorless (usually heat treated)
 

Orange to golde brown
 

Red to brwonish red
 

Yellow to yellow brown
 

1 - 5 CT: $50 - $450
5 - 10 CT: $100 - $700

1 - 5 CT: $30 - $200
5 - 10 CT: $80 - $300

Comparable to green
 

Comparable to green
 

Prices unknown (Rare)
 

Comparable to green
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

Fair, not recommended for rings

Fair, not recommended for rings

Fair, not recommended for rings

Fair, not recommended for rings

Fair, not recommended for rings

Fair, not recommended for rings

Large: Scarce
 

Good
 

Good
 

Good
 

True red: Scarce
Other red: Good

Good
 

Zoisite



 

Tanzanite

 

Green
 

Strong blue to weak violet, blue violet

 

Blue green to gray green
 

1 - 3 CT: $240 - $680
3 - 5 CT: $400 -$1,040
5 - 20 CT: $440 - $1,600

1 - 3 CT: $200 - $1,000
 

Good

 

Good
 

Poor for rings

 

Good
 

Good

 

Small: Fair
Large: Scarce

*  Prices are based on market (supplies and demand) and are subject to change, and adjusted to retail base.
(1)  Beryl also comes in red, green (different form emerald green)< lilac, salmon, and orange. Most are still not easily available, but some, such as the lovely orange variety can be found for under $100 per carat and offer excellent value.
(2)  Cabochon cut rubies, sapphires, and emeralds usually cost much less; finest gems can cost much more.
(3)  Natural pearls are very rare much more expensive than cultured. Pricing information is insufficient to provide guidelines.
(4)  3/4 round pearls are very rare which may appear to be fully round, sell for approximately 50% less than full round pearls.
(5)  Un-drilled. Drilled pearls (such as those mounted on “posts”) sell for much less than un-drilled pearls.

Opal Price guide *

There are numerous varieties of opals and wide ranges in quality.  Quality differences are often difficult for the amateur to distinguish, but may significantly affect prices. The following prices provide only a guide, and is subject change due the market.

White base, gray base, and jelly opal

 

Commerical

Good

Fine

Exrta Fine

1 - 7 CT

$8 - 16

$16 - 50

$50 - 150

$150 - 350

7 - 15 CT

$16 - 50

$50 - 100

$100 - 220

$220 - 350

Boulder opal

 

Commerical

Good

Fine

Exrta Fine

Small
1 - 5 CT

$20 & up

$100 - 1,800

$1,800 - 5,000

$5,000 - 10,000

Medium
5 - 10 CT

$20 & up

$900 - 2,200

$2,200 - 11,000

$11,000 - 20,000

Large
10 -15 CT

$20 & up

$1,200 - 4,000

$4,000 - 15,000

$15,000 - 50,000

Very Large
over 15 CT

$20 & up

$2,000 - 6,000

$6,000 - 20,000

$20,000 - 80,000

Black opal

 

Commerical

Good

Fine

Exrta Fine

1 - 5 CT

$100 & up

$300 -1,400

$1,400 - 8,000

$8,000 - 20,000

5 - 10 CT

$100 & up

$300 - 1,400

$1,400 - 8,000

$8,000 - 20,000

10 - 15 CT

$100 & up

$300 - 1,400

$1,400 - 6,400

$6,400 - 16,000

Semi-black and Crystal opal

 

Commerical

Good

Fine

Exrta Fine

Small
1 - 5 CT

$70 & up

$300 - 1,200

$1,200 - 3,000

$3,000 - 5,000

Medium
5 - 10 CT

$70 & up

$300 - 1,200

$1,200 - 4,000

$4,000 - 7,000

Large
10 -15 CT

$70 & up

$300 - 1,200

$1,200 - 3,600

$3,600 - 6,400

Crystal opal

 

Commerical

Good

Fine

Exrta Fine

1 - 5CT

$70 & up

$150 -500

$500 - 1,000

$1,000 - 2,000

5 - 10 CT

$70 & up

$150 -500

$500 - 1,000

$1,000 - 2,400

10 -15 CT

$70 & up

$150 -500

$500 - 1,000

$1,000 - 2,000

Semi-crystal opal

 

Commerical

Good

Fine

Exrta Fine

1 - 5 CT

$30 & up

$70 - 250

$250 - 500

$500 - 1,200

5 - 10 CT

$30 & up

$70 - 250

$250 - 500

$500 - 1,200

10 -15 CT

$30 & up

$70 - 250

$250 - 500

$500 - 1,200

Customer Satisfaction is of paramount important to The Jewelry Hut.

Buy with confidence at The Jewelry Hut.

 

To Web Masters:

The article above can be used on your web site or newsletter.

When it is published, May I request that you include my name and resource box (the bio., contact and copyright information that follows the article.  I would also appreciate if you could send me an e-mail of notification along with a complimentary copy of publication.

Bijan Aziz is the owner and Web Master for The Jewelry Hut.

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