How to buy a Gemstone.
The good news is we, at The Jewelry Hut, can teach about gemstone quality. After reading our Gemstone buying guide, you will know more than the average jeweler. The bad news is that you will have to read all our Gemstone buying guide advice.
Gemstones are much more complicated than diamonds. So, please concentrate!
Diamonds have accepted grades for color, cut, and clarity. On other hand, Gemstone have no established grading system, each variety has individual value factors, and within each gem variety, quality dramatically affects price. A Ruby Gemstone can be worth $100.00 or $100,000.00.
Everyone agrees what the best gemstone is, that is the easy part. But, what is the best buy? That is the tricky part.
First , the basic. Like diamonds, gemstone quality and value are evaluated according to the 4 Cs:
For Ruby, Sapphire, and to lesser extent Emerald, country or origin also affects value. Unfortunately color Gemstones are commonly treated, so that also affects value for, Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald in particular.
Color: Color is the key factor. But do not assume that the darker the color the better the stone. That is not true. Color can be dark, like some Sapphire that look more black than blue. Think grass green, not forest green. Fire engine truck red, not burgundy. The more bright and vivid the color, the better.
In prices grading terms: Clear, medium tone, intense and saturated primary colors are the most preferred. Pure blue, not greenish blue. Pure red, not purplish red, Muted colors and colors between hues, which you might find very attractive, are usually less expensive. Look at color in different kinds of light.
Clarity: The most important factor affecting value is clarity. Clear transparent gemstones with no visible flaws are most valued. There is no standard grading system for clarity. It varies by gem type. With color gemstones, if inclusion does not show in the face up position, it generally does not matter at all, unlike diamonds which are graded upside-down at 10x magnification. Some varieties, notably Emerald and red Tourmaline, are very rare without inclusions of some kind, so the price structure takes this in to account. Pastel color Gemstones show inclusions more, so they generally detract more value from the pale stones.
In rare cases, inclusion can increase value. Special effects like the star in Star Sapphire and the eye in the Catís Eye Chrysoberyl are caused by inclusions. Inclusions can also be a birthmark, proving that a gemstone is from a particular place. So horse tail inclusion in Demantoid Garnet make id more valuable, because they prove it came from Russia.
Carat Weight: Gemstones are sold by weight not by size. Prices are calculated base on Carat Weight. Where one carat is one-fifth of a gram. Some gems are denser than others, so the weight stones may be a different size. Just like diamonds, the carat weight also affects the price. Large gemstone are more rare, so the price per carat is higher. But, practically, this does not make much of difference with common gems like Amethyst, Citrine, and Blue Topaz. It make a difference for Ruby, Sapphire, Alexandrite, Tsavorite and Demantoid Garnet, Paraiba and Rubellite Tourmaline, Spinal, and Pink Topaz.
Cut: Another important quality factor, which makes a big difference in gemís beauty, but may not add much to the price. A good cut stone may not cost more but can add or subtract a lot of beauty. A well cut faceted gemstone reflects light back evenly across its surface area when held face up. If it is too shallow and wide, parts of the stone will be washed out and lifeless. The best way to judge the cut is to look at similar gemstone next to each other.
In the above picture, look at the three stones. See the dark areas in the stone on the left and right? These are caused by light leaking out the back of the stones, because the angles are not right. Look for a stone like the one in the center which has even brilliance. But the cut affects the pattern of light you will see.
For example; look at the two Emeralds shown in the picture above. The Stone on the left is traditional emerald cut, with rectangular reflections. The one on the right has the same shape, but a different cut, a barion, with more small facets on the back. Color gemstones come in lots of different cut variations, many more than diamonds. Choose the cut style that appeals to you. Just make sure that the angles are right and light is coming back to the eye in a pleasing way.
The Jewelry Hut recommend the best quality gemstone you can afford. In general, the smaller gemstones of higher quality appreciate more over time than larger gemstones of lower quality. The gemstone prices follows common sense: The more beautiful the gemstone, with the final visual effect of all the quality factors, the more valuable it is. Donít be afraid to choose what looks the best to you!
Different gemstones have different price ranges. Some are lower, because they are readily available, because in some the color is not very popular, some because the material is relatively soft, some because they are too rare and never been heard of with very little demand for them. Well, why do you think Tanzanite cost more than Tsavorite or Spinel? Below, find the guide to prices of different gemstone, assuming good but not great quality.
The Classic Big Three - Ruby , Emerald, and Sapphire
Expect to pay between $500.00 to $20,000.00 per carat. Emerald and Ruby cost more than Sapphire , particularly for large size stone.
The New Classic - Tanznite, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Imperial Topaz, and Tsavorite Garnet
These Gemstones are sometimes available in standard sizes, but finer stones are on-of-a-kind and jewelry will have to be made specifically for the stone. Prices range between $100.00 $1500.00 per carat, with Tsavorite easily reaching $3000.00 per carat.
Connoiseur Gemstones - Black Opal, Jadeite, Pink Topaz, Chrysoberyl Catís Eye, Fancy color Sapphires, Demantoid Garnet, and Alexandrite
These Gems are sought after and prices range from $250.00 to $5000.00 per Carat. Although, a Alexandrite stone with a good color change will command at least $10,000.00 even in a one carat size.
Collectors Gemstones - Spinel, Zircon, Moonstone, Morganite, and other Beryls, and many rare Gemstones
Collectorís Gemstones are not available in quantity to be marketed effectively, so you get a lot of beauty for the money. Red and hot pink Spinels can command a few thousand dollars per carat, but most of the gems in this category will sell for hundreds of dollars not thousands.
Affordable Gemstone - Amethyst, White Opal, Citrine, Ametrine, Peridot, Rhodolite Garnet, Blue Topaz, Iolite, Chrome Diopside, Kunzite, Andalusite, and Ornamental Gemstone such as Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Onyx, Chrysoprase, Nephrite Jade, and Amber
These Gemstones combine greater color with reasonable prices and good availability. Prices for these gemstones range between $10.00 to $150.00 per carat.
Most Gemstone are treated. Garnet, Peridot, Iolite, Spinel, Chrysoberyl, or Alexandrite are the only Gemstones that are not treated. The Gemstone dealers distinguish between good and poor bad treatments. Good treatment are the basic ones that everyone expect to see in gemstones. Most dealers ignore these treatment when calculating prices. Poorly treated gemstones have no value with very little interest in them.
Commonly accepted treatments:
Heating Ruby and Sapphire
Putting organic resin and wax in Emerald
Heating Amethyst, Aquamarine Citrine, Tanzanite, Tourmaline, Precious Topaz, and Zircon
Irradiating Blue Topaz, you accept them because all are irradiated
Waxing Jadeite, Lapis Lazuli, and other Ornamental Gemstones
Not acceptable treatments:
The Gemstone Trade accepted treatment comes into play as a value factor at the very top of the market, fine Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald that is certified to be untreated will require a premium.
The Gemstone Origin
Country of origin matters in the prices of high quality Ruby and Sapphire. If a Gemstone Lab confirmed that a Ruby is from Burma or a Sapphire is from Kashmir or Burma, then each one will cost more than an identical stone without its country of origin being known. If you are considering purchase a premium quality Rub, Sapphire, or Emerald, then you should know the following:
Identifying country of origin of a Gemstone is a guess work. It is very difficult to test a gemstone to identify its origin without damaging of destroying the Gemstones.
Only a few well known industry Independent Lab grade or identify gemstone country of origin. They are; Gubelin and SSEF in Switzerland, AGTA and American Gemological Laboratories in New York. GIA does not identify country of origin of Gemstones.
Origin is also short hand for color, because certain gemstone color come only from one mine. Ruby in Vietnam is geologically almost identical to Ruby from Burma.
Emerald Color between the Colombian Emerald and African Emerald is different. They can never be confused. This is the only case where color means country of origin.