Style & Beauty
Prepare to be Dazzled
4/5/2016 9:10:17 AM

The allure of gemstones has captured hearts and imaginations for as long as we can remember. Whether it’s for a ring, necklace or bracelet, the gemstones you purchase essentially create part of a legacy to be admired by generations to come. The expense of a cherished heirloom makes it critical to ensure that the stone’s value coincides with the price, and that it’s of high enough quality to maintain and potentially exceed its value in the future.

All that glitters isn’t gold. The same is true for dazzling gemstones. Even if a stone is stunning, it doesn’t mean its value equals the price tag, making it critical to only deal with reputable jewelers. Research any jeweler you are dealing with and make sure to ask questions. Here are some tips to help you get started.

· Not all stones are created equally. Gems are broken down into three categories: precious, semi-precious and synthetic.

· Precious stones include diamond and colored gems: ruby, sapphire and emerald. They were determined to be the most highly valued stones by the ancient Greeks due to their difficulty in accessibility. While more plentiful today, they are still considered by most to be the highest-valued stones.

· The rest of the colored gemstones, including aquamarine, amethyst, citrine, opal, and so on, fall under the semi-precious category. This includes organic gems, such as pearls, which are formed by oysters, and amber, which originates from tree sap. Gemstones that are considered rare by modern standards, whether only available in large cuts, such as amerine, or small, including alexandrine and demantoid garnet, also fall under this category, regardless of value.

· Synthetic, man-made stones are created in laboratories. These stones have grown in popularity and are often flawless in appearance.

· When shopping for a natural precious or semi-precious gem it’s important to look at the "four c’s”—clarity, color, cut and carat weight--to determine the level of quality.

· Clarity is determined by the lack of a stone’s internal and external imperfections. While it usually takes an expert to find the internal imperfections, the external are visible to the eye and includes, cracks, scratches, and chips.

· Color can determine up to 50 to 70 percent of a gem’s worth. It is graded by tone, hue and saturation. When a gemstone is saturated with hue, it creates a darker, more vivid tone. Ask the jeweler where a stone falls on the scale. A high-quality gem should fall within the range of five to six. Also, evaluate the brightness of the light being used to inspect the gem.

· The cut is often confused for being the shape of the stone, but instead speaks to its proportions, symmetry and polish. It is a great determinant of value and brings out the gem’s brilliance.

· Carat weight is the final factor in determining the value of a gemstone. Make sure to ask the jeweler to give you the weight before purchase. Charts with the ranges by stone shape can be found online for reference.

· The value of organic stones is generally not determined by the four c’s. For instance, when choosing a pearl--one of the most highly-valued organic gems--it’s important to ask if it’s natural or cultured. Cultured pearls are harvested on oyster farms dedicated to the formation of pearls and are typically of lower value. It’s also important to evaluate a pearl’s luster, which is the way it reflects light. The clearer the reflection; the higher the value. Like the pearl many organic gemstones carry their own set of rules for assessing quality, so it is important to do some research on the specific type of gem you are shopping for before your trip to the jewelry store.

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