Gemstone Guide

Buying a gemstone is often a very different experience than buying a diamond. Gemstones are bought based on favorite colours, wardrobe matches, personality, and fashion trends. While gemstones are judged using the 4Cs, just as diamonds do, each is judged separately. For example, a sapphire is compared to another sapphire, but wouldn't be compared to an emerald or aquamarine. Choose your gemstone jewellery based on your personal preferences.
 


Colour & Clarity

Gemstone colour is different from judging the colour of a diamond. Every gemstone has a range of colour that runs from light to dark and more vivid to less vivid, with a small range of colour considered preferable. All of the families of colour are represented by gems of different types.

Gems also have internal characteristics called inclusions. Some gemstones are known for having many inclusions like emerald or for having few inclusions like citrine. Each gemstone will be graded for clarity differently.

Like diamonds, gemstones are measured using carats. A carat is equivalent to .2 grams or .007 of an ounce. Unlike diamonds, each gemstone has a different density, which determines its weight versus its measured size. A one carat citrine won’t measure the same as a one carat sapphire.


Birthstones

A reference guide to each month's representative gemstones.

Garnet

Garnet - January

The garnet group of related mineral species offers gems of every hue, including fiery red pyrope, vibrant orange spessartine, and rare intense-green varieties of grossular and andradite.

Amethyst

Amethyst - February

is crystalline quartz in colors ranging from pale lilac to deep reddish purple. The February birthstone makes a fine, durable gemstone for all purposes, from jewellery to carved objects.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine - March

Blue to slightly greenish-blue variety of the mineral beryl. Crystals are sometimes big enough to cut fashioned gems of more than 100 carats.

Diamond

Diamond - April

This hardest gem of all is made of just one element: carbon. It’s valued for its colorless nature and purity. Most diamonds are primeval—over a billion years old—and form deep within the earth.

Emerald

Emerald - May

The most valued variety of beryl, emerald was once cherished by Spanish conquistadors, Inca kings, Moguls, and pharaohs. Today, fine gems come from Africa, South America, and Central Asia.

Pearl

Pearl - June

Produced in the bodies of marine and freshwater mollusks naturally or cultured by people with great care. Lustrous, smooth, subtly-colored pearls are jewelry staples, especially as strands.

Alexandrite

Alexandrite - June

It’s the color-change variety of the mineral, chrysoberyl. Bluish green in daylight, purplish red under incandescent light; hard and durable.

Ruby

Ruby - July

Traces of chromium give this red variety of the mineral corundum its rich color. Long valued by humans of many cultures. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby was called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.”

Peridot

Peridot - August

Yellow-green gem variety of the mineral olivine. Found as nodules in volcanic rock, occasionally as crystals lining veins in mountains of Myanmar and Pakistan, and occasionally inside meteorites.

Spinel

Spinel - August

Although frequently confused with ruby, spinel stands on its own merits. Available in a striking array of colors, its long history includes many famous large spinels still in existence.

Sapphire

Sapphire - September

Depending on their trace element content, sapphire varieties of the mineral corundum might be blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple or even show a six-rayed star if cut as a cabochon.

Opal

Opal - October

Opal’s microscopic arrays of stacked silica spheres diffract light into a blaze of flashing colors. An opal’s color range and pattern help determine its value. Legend says that it is especially good for the eyes.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline - October

Tourmaline's name comes from the Sinhalese word "turmali", which means "mixed". Occurring in more colors or combinations of colors than any other gemstone, tourmaline lives up to its name.

Topaz

Topaz - November

Colorless topaz treated to blue is a mass-market gem. Fine pink-to-red, purple, or orange gems are one-of-a-kind pieces. Top sources include Ouro Prêto, Brazil, and Russia’s Ural Mountains.

Citrine

Citrine - November

Citrine’s color comes from traces of iron. It’s perhaps the most popular purchased yellow gemstone and an attractive alternative for topaz and yellow sapphire.

Turquoise

Turquoise - December

It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. The turquoise occurs as vein or seam fillings, and as compact nuggets; these are mostly small in size.

Zircon

Zircon - December

Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire. These zircon properties are close enough to the properties of diamond to account for centuries of confusion between the two gems.

Tanzanite

Tanzanite - December

Named for Tanzania, the country where it was discovered in 1967, tanzanite is the blue-to-violet or purple variety of the mineral zoisite. It’s become one of the most popular of colored gemstones.


Gemstones A-Z

A free informational guide to other popular gemstones.

Amber

Amber

Fossilized resin, color of the burnished sun–orange or golden brown. Amber might trap and preserve ancient life, including insects.

Fancy Diamond Color

Fancy Color Diamond

Only one in every 10,000 diamonds possesses natural color and is referred to as a fancy color diamond. They are purchased almost exclusively for the intensity and distribution of the diamond's color.

Iolite

Iolite

Known in the jewelry trade as iolite, this mineral is known as cordierite to geologists and mineralogists. Iolite is strongly trichroic, meaning that it shows three colors when viewed from different angles.

Jade

Jade

Prized by civilizations from ancient China to the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America, jade is crafted into objects of stunning artistry. Beauty and wide-ranging expressiveness.

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli is a gemstone of the kind that might have come straight out of the Arabian Nights: a deep blue with golden inclusions of pyrites which shimmer like little stars. Stone of friendship and truth.

Moonstone

Moonstone

Feldspar prized for its billowy blue adularescence, caused by light scattering from an intergrowth of microscopic, alternating layers. Favored gem of many Art Nouveau jewelry designers.

Morganite

Morganite

Like its cousins emerald and aquamarine, morganite is a variety of the beryl mineral species. This gem gets its subtle blush when a trace amount of manganese makes its way into morganite’s crystal structure.

Onyx

Onyx

This gem comes in white, reddish brown, brown and banded. Black is timeless and never goes out of style, which is why you can never go wrong with black onyx. Its appealing rich black color can be both classic and contemporary.

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz

Microscopic mineral inclusions cause the pink color and translucence of rose quartz. Well shaped, transparent pink quartz crystals are rare. An irresistible addition to your jewelry wardrobe.

Star Saphire

Star Sapphire

Star Sapphire is a type of sapphire that displays asterism, a star-like optical effect.

Sunstone

Sunstone

Sunstone, a member of the feldspar group, can be an orthoclase feldspar or a plagioclase feldspar, depending on chemistry. Both can show aventurescence. “Sunstone” applies to the gem’s appearance.


Gemstone Enhancement Codes

Published by the American Gem Trade Association.

Enhancement: Any treatment process other than cutting and polishing that improves the appearance (colour/clarity/phenomena), durability, or availability of a gemstone.

N: The "N" symbol appears on the chart only for natural stones which are not currently known to be enhanced; however, the "N" symbol can also be used for other natural gemstones in the event that a gemstone has received no enhancement and the seller will provide a guarantee that there has been none.

E: The "E" symbol indicates that a gemstone has undergone its traditional enhancement process.
 

B Bleaching

The use of heat, light and/or other agents to lighten or remove a gemstone's colour.

C Coating

The use of such surface enhancements as lacquering, enameling, inking, foiling, or sputtering of films to improve appearance, provide colour, or add other special effects.

D Dyeing

The introduction of colouring matter into a gemstone to give it new colour, intensify present colour or improve colour uniformity.

F Filling

The filling of surface-breaking cavities or fissures with colourless glass, plastic, solidified borax or similar substances. This process may improve durability, appearance, and/or add weight.

H Heating

The use of heat to effect desired alteration of colour, clarity, and/or phenomena (if residue of foreign substances in open fractures is visible under properly illuminated 10X magnification HF should be used.

HP Heat & Pressure

The use of heat and pressure combined to effect desired alterations of colour clarity and/or phemonena.

I Impregantion

The impregnation of a porous gemstone with a colourless agent (usually plastic) to improve durability and appearance.

L Lasering

The use of a laser and chemicals to reach and alter inclusions in diamonds.

O Oiling/Resin Infusion

The filling of surface-breaking fissures with colourless oil, wax, resin, or other colourless substances, except glass or plastic, to improve the gemstones appearance.

R Irradiation

The use of neutrons, gamma rays or beta particles (high energy electrons) to alter a gemstones colour. The irradiation may be followed by a heating process.

U Diffusion

The use of chemicals in conjunction with high temperatures to produce artificial colour and/or asterism-producing inclusions.

W Waxing/Oiling

The impregnation of a colourless wax, paraffin, and oil in porous opaque or translucent gemstones to improve appearance.


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