How to Buy a Quality Coloured Gemstone - dummies

How to Buy a Quality Coloured Gemstone

Part of Buying Gemstones For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition)

Colour is the most important consideration when buying coloured gemstones; the colour component of a coloured gemstone is between 50 to 70 per cent of its value.

Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping for coloured gemstones:

  • Determine whether the gemstone is a natural, an imitation or a synthetic. Natural gemstones are produced by nature with no human interference. Synthetic gemstones are man-made in a laboratory, and they share the natural stone’s chemical, physical and optical properties.

    Imitation stones are simulants that do not share the natural gemstone’s properties. Shopping for imitation and synthetic stones can be fun, but you don’t want to be paying a natural gemstone’s price for them.

  • Clarify the name of the gemstone. Be aware of misleading names such as Australian jade (which is really chrysoprase quartz), Balsa ruby (a red spinel), Evening emerald (peridot) and Brazilian sapphire (blue tourmaline).

  • Check out how the colour looks in a variety of lights. Remember that daylight varies throughout the day and where you are in the world. A high quality coloured gemstone should look good under all lights; it should be a bright, intense, pure, rich and vivid colour.

  • *Be aware that coloured gemstones are rarely as ‘clean’ as diamonds, and should be judged differently. There is no universally accepted standard for grading the clarity of coloured gemstones, although the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed its own standards.

  • Ask whether the coloured gemstone is enhanced. Gemstones that have been enhanced need different care and cleaning treatments so you need to know if you’re buying an enhanced stone. Ask your jeweller; for example, has this blue sapphire had diffusion treatment, or has this emerald been oiled?

  • Determine the quality of the cut, which is what gives any gemstone its beauty and brilliance. An ideal cut reflects the light in an even manner, without any dark areas or windowing (where a too-shallow or poorly proportioned stone lets the light straight through reducing the brilliance of the gemstone).

  • Shop around and compare lots of stones before you buy. Unlike diamonds, the market for coloured gemstones is highly fragmented with no central marketing organisation. Grading and pricing is much more subjective. So you really must shop around.

  • Do you really like the gemstone? Does it complement your skin tones? Would you like to be partners for life and pass it on to future generations?