Frequently Asked Questions
Are colored gemstones considered precious? What is the difference between precious and semi-precious gemstones?
All natural colored gemstones are precious. They are a scarce resource yielded from the earth and their value is determined by their availability and quality. So, the terms "Precious" and "Semi-Precious" can be misleading.
Years ago, Sapphires, Emeralds and Rubies were classified as "Precious" gemstones but these classifications are no longer appropriate. There are plenty of very fine "Semi-Precious" gemstones that are even more rare and precious than Diamonds and traditional "Precious" gemstones. For example, Paraiba Tourmaline is much rarer than the traditional "Precious" gemstones and can cost significantly more too.
Today, "Semi-Precious" gemstones typically applies to gemstone materials that are found in abundance and are relatively inexpensive. (For example: Green Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Blue Topaz, Green Topaz, Amethyst, and Citrine.)
What to seek when buying color:
The goal when buying Natural Color Gemstones, is obviously, to buy COLOR. The 4C's don't exist in the same rigid format as with Diamonds, but are all very important elements when evaluating a color gemstone.
Each type of color gemstone comes in a range of colors. And, while in each species there is a color that is most desirable and more expensive than others, different colors are loved by and sought after by different people. Some prefer the finest color while others seek a specific shade that is at the height of fashion. So find the color that speaks to you.
Overall, it is recommended to buy lively, vibrant color gemstones that are well cut and, ideally, loupe clean. The purest and most saturated color is generally the most expensive.
Color - If you are seeking the color that is most valuable within the species, it will be the purest and most saturated of colors.
Cut - A well cut gemstone helps amplify and show a gem's color. Make sure the gemstone's measurements are proportional to its weight. That being said, occasionally, color gemstones are slightly deeper in order to capture color. But stay away from gemstones that are too deep, have windows or are shallow that enable the color and brilliance to escape.
Clarity - Similar to diamonds, it is preferred and optimal to find a clean gemstone. Inclusions can interfere with a gemstone's color, brilliance, and/or appearance. However, a handful of color gemstones are very difficult to find 100% clean (i.e. Emeralds, Rubellite and Paraiba) because of the way their crystals are formed. Therefore, those that are clean are more expensive. Alternatively, find eye-clean gemstones.
Carat Weight - While the carat weight should correspond to an approximate mm size for a color gemstone, the correlation isn't as rigid as with diamonds. In some species of color gemstones, some rough crystals don't grow in large formations. Therefore, it is very difficult to find large gemstones in that material (i.e. Tsavorite and Brazilian Paraiba).