A Brief Introduction to Colored Gemstones

Colored stone prices are controlled by supply and demand, whereas eighty-five percent of all diamonds are 'controlled' by DeBeers - a South African based company which determines prices by the quality, size and quantity of rough diamonds it releases to the world market. By monopolizing the diamond market, DeBeers has stabilized prices ensuring fairly constant prices. It is DeBeers, and not rarity, that determines diamond prices. In contrast to diamonds, some colored stones are truly rare and therefore, prices are determined by supply, demand and availability. New deposits of rare colored gemstones may be discovered and 'played out' in a very short time frame - not to be seen again for years, decades or even centuries. As a direct importer of gemstones, many of the stones we stock can be traced to the country, state or even the mine from where it was unearthed after its formation millions of years ago.

The 4 C's (Clarity, Color, Cut, Carat Weight) that are discussed when purchasing a diamond also hold true for colored stones. There is a standard system of grading in diamonds, whereas, one doesn't exist in colored stones. Some attempt to apply the diamond grading rules to colored stones - this may have both advantages and disadvantages.

Clarity in colored stones, clarity plays a smaller role than in diamonds. Certain gemstones are known to contain 'inclusions' which are characteristic of a particular gemstone. These inclusions are also known as 'identifying characteristics' and help gemologists determine the identity of an unknown gemstone and may also help in the separation of genuine, natural gemstones from synthetics or even imitation stones. Stones such as emerald, usually contain these identifying characteristics, however minute, that tell of its growth deep within the earth.

Color is extremely important in colored gemstones and is a major determining factor in price. A slight shift in color can greatly increase or decrease the price. In some stones, moderately included stones still sell at high prices if the color is desirable.

Carat Weight affects price if the stone falls into a 'magic size' for that species of gemstone. For instance, a half carat emerald of fine color and clarity is far more common and less costly per carat than one of equivalent color and clarity weighing one carat; but a two or three carat amethyst of fine color and clarity is not much more per carat than a one carat stone, as amethyst is readily available in larger sizes. Depending on the species of gemstone, prices may climb dramatically when the stone approaches its magic size. Magic size is also based on desirability and in the case of emerald and ruby, will command higher prices in excess of one carat.

Cut is a highly underated factor in all gemstones. A well cut gemstone returns a greater percentage of the light that entered through its table. This gives the stone life - a sparkle called brilliance. Most stones which are cut in third world countries (where many gemstones are found), are cut to produce the largest stone possible without consideration of the proper angles. The result is a very deep or very shallow stone that has no life or brilliance. Well cut gemstones are more costly to produce due to the time required to cut the proper angles. These stones are generally cut on state-of-the-art faceting machines and faceted by professionals. When given the choice of a stone that differs only in the cutting, the well cut gemstone wins hands down! We strive to purchase rough gemstones when the opportunity exists in order to have input in the finished product. In purchasing or producing fine faceted gemstones, we choose each stone individually. In this way, we never have to make apologies for inferior merchandise.