each gemstone variety, quality dramatically
affects price: a gem can sell for $100 or $2,000,000.
When buying a gemstone - buy the best quality, most experts
recommend. Choose a smaller stone of higher quality over
a larger stone of lower quality, or buy a higher quality
gem from an unusual variety if your budget is too small.
Well-known gemstones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires
- which have been known for centuries - are more valuable
than more recently discovered gemstones which are also
beautiful and rare. You may be surprised how beautiful
and affordable garnets, tourmalines, tanzanites, and other
exotic gemstones can be.
Value factors: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight Gemstone
quality and value are evaluated according to the "four
Cs": color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
Color is the key factor. A common
misperception in judging gems is people assume that
the darker the color, the better the stone. That isn't
true: color can be too dark, like some sapphires that
look more black than blue. If a gem's color is too dark,
it is subdued and lifeless. A much better rule of thumb
is the brighter and more rich and vivid the color the
better. In general, within each gemstone variety, a
clear, medium-tone, very intense and saturated primary
color is the most preferred. Muted colors or colors
between hues, which you might find very attractive,
are usually less expensive. Look at the color in different
kinds of light.
The next most important factor affecting
value is clarity, with clear transparent gemstones with
no visible flaws being the most valued. Some gemstone
varieties, notably emerald and red tourmaline, are very
rare without inclusions of some kind so the price structure
takes this into account.
Some gemstones are valued for their
inclusions! Phenomenal gemstones owe their stars and
eyes to inclusions. Tiny inclusions reflecting back
light put the eye in cat's-eye chrysoberyl and the star
in star sapphire. Inclusions can also be a birthmark,
telling us where a particular gemstone was mined.
A good cut is something that 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 the stone is too deep and
narrow, areas will be dark. If it is too shallow and
wide, parts of the stone will be washed out and lifeless.
Gemstones are generally sold by weight, and not by size.
The price will be per carat, which is one-fifth of a
gram. Some gems are heavier than others so the same
weight stone may be a different size! The carat weight
also affects the price: large gemstones are more rare,
so the price per carat is higher.
In general, gemstone pricing within each variety follows
common sense: the more beautiful the gemstone, with
the final visual effect of all the quality factors,
the more valuable it is. Don't be afraid to choose what
looks best to you!