Colored gemstones are some of the most beautiful and permanent examples of nature’s breathtaking color schemes.
There are several different types of gemstones: Precious, Semi-Precious, and Synthetic. Generally when you say “Precious” gemstones you are referring to diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. All other colored gemstones are referred to as “Semi-Precious”. Synthetic Gemstones have the same exact look and properties of a “Natural” Gemstone but are created in a laboratory.
For centuries, people have used heat to improve the color and or transparency of some gems. You may find that amber, amethyst, aquamarine, carnelian, citrine, morganite, tanzanite, pink topaz, blue and green tourmaline, and zircon are most routinely enhanced. Another form of gemstone enhancement is “Irradiation”, which is when laboratories use ionizing radiation to alter the stones optical properties. Irradiated stones can sometimes include diamonds, cultured pearls, blue topaz, or pink and red tourmaline. The third way a stone is enhanced is when it is “Filled.” When flaws reach the surface they can be filled with colorless glass or similar substances to improve a stone’s appearance. Stones that are sometimes filled are diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. Lastly, bleaching and dyeing are also used to enhance gemstones. Bleaching is a process using chlorine compounds or concentrated hydrogen peroxide to lighten or remove color. Dyeing has been done for thousands of years using a treatment that alters the body color of a gem. Stones that are routinely bleached and dyed include black onyx, cultured pearls, jade, lapis, turquoise, and coral.
Gemstones are graded very much like diamonds using the “Four C’s” scale:
The Gemstones that are most valuable are the ones with pure and vivid colors such as medium to medium-dark color. Also stones without any enhancements increase their value and rarity. Gemstones lose their value when color is very light.
Clarity is determined by how unusual the environment is, in which Gemstones are formed. Most Gemstones will have inclusions which can either be seen with the naked eye or only with a loupe. Think if these imperfections as birthmarks, not flaws. They add individuality to stones to make them “one of a kind”.
Cut can play a huge part of the value of the Gemstone. It determines the beauty of the stone. When finding the perfect cut look for those that are well cut and have a large area of brilliance and color when facing up.
“Carat” weight is the standard unit of weight for the majority of Gemstones. Gemstones as well as Diamonds are priced per carat. The larger or more rare the stone, the higher the price.