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Quality And Value Of Gemstones in Today's Market | planetarygems.com

Becoming an educated consumer is not such an easy matter when dealing with all the variables related to the purchase of a colored gemstone. These many variables will determine the quality, therefore the price.
In general
, the quality and value of a gemstone is determined by a combination of what are called the "Four C's":

Color, Clarity (degree of flawlessness), Cut and Carat weight.
Treatments also should be added to the list, as they play a very important role in today's evaluation of quality and price. As a general rule, If a stone is left untreated, in a nowadays market filled with treatments of all sorts, it acquires a very substantial value over a gem that has been treated.
What does unheated and untreated mean?

Clarity is the degree of flawlessness. As a general rule, a clear transparent gemstones with no visible flaws is the most valued.
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) classifies colored gems clarity of three types:
Type 1 gemstones,  "virtually inclusion-free" such as aquamarine, topaz, green tourmaline, tanzanite, citrine, damburite.
Type 2 gemstones,  "usually included" such as rubies, all color sapphires, garnets, peridots, amethysts, zircons, cat's eye chrysoberyls, pearls, corals.
Type 3 gemstones,  "always included", such as emeralds and red tourmalines.
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 the so called "cat's eye" and the "star" in the star sapphire. Inclusions can also be a birthmark, telling us where a particular gemstone was mined.
As a general rule, look for eye flawless stones. If the inclusions are too numerous, too visible to the naked eye and/or distracting, avoid such stones.

Color is another key factor. A common misperception in judging gems is that people assume that the darker the color, the better the stone. That isn't true: color can be too dark, like some "blue" sapphires that look more black than blue. See pic on the left.

Overly dark blue sapphire. Lower quality.

Deep, vivid blue color.
High quality.

 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 to medium-dark tone, very intense and saturated primary color is the most preferred. See pic on the right. Muted colors or colors between hues, which you might find very attractive, are usually a bit less expensive. Look at the color in different kinds of light. Gemstones change naturally intensity and hue color depending on the light environment (daylight with sun, cloudy, incandescent light, which will be a thing of the past soon, and different fluorescent light environments).
Of note are the color change stones, where
in daylight, a gem shows one color and in artificial light another one. This color change gems are usually very attractive and in most case expensive. (alexandrite is the most well known example, but sapphires, garnets, and occasionally spinels can also change color).

Let's talk about the cutting in a gemstone. It use to be that a good Cut was something that did not cost more. Nowadays, a good cut stone is worth more than a badly cut one. A savvy consumer knows that a well cut gemstone can add or subtract a lot of beauty. And beauty (together with rarity and freedom from enhancement...basically) is what we pay in a gemstone.

A well-cut, faceted gemstone reflects light back

Windowed sapphire. Brilliance will be subdued.

Perfectly cut, natural pinkish-orange zircon. Exceptionally brilliant.

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, the stone will be washed out and lifeless (the so-called window, see stone sample on the left). The best way to judge cut is to look at similar gemstones next to each other.

The weight of a gemstone is measured in Carats and points. There are 100 points in one carat, and 1 carat equals to one-fifth of a gram. As a rule, the price increases per carat as we go from smaller to larger stones, since the larger stones are more limited in supply. However, the price does not increase proportionately - there are disproportionate jumps. And the larger the stone (all else being equal in terms of overall quality), the more disproportionate the increase in cost per carat may be.

Fair Cost: Here we could go on and on for days and days about the value of a gem. In the end, this is the dilemma, not only in purchasing a gemstone, but in choosing or evaluating everything in life. What is the real value? Simply said, the exact cost of a stone should depend on its beauty, rarity and, of course, a combination of the 4Cs .


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