How can I judge the value and quality of a gemstone?
Simply put, the type of gemstone and color you select should be the one you like the most, the one that will give you the most pleasure to wear. However, colored gemstones are judged by their beauty and rarity. The same "four Cs" that establish quality in Diamond are used for colored gemstones: cut, carat weight, clarity and most importantly, color.
Color: The more pure and vivid the color, the more valuable the gemstone.
Cut: All gemstones must be cut well to attain their maximum potential for beauty. Quality cutting is what produces the brilliance and scintillation that captures the eye of the beholder.
Clarity: Gemstones contain characteristic inclusions that provide proof of their natural origin. Those inclusions should not be so visible that they detract from the beauty of the gemstone.
Carat Weight: Obviously, larger gemstones are rarer. However, some gemstones, such as Amethyst and Tourmaline, routinely occur in very large sizes while others, such as Ruby and Sapphire, rarely occur in sizes above 2 to 3 carats.
I don't like by birthstone, what are my options?
Color is what gemstones are all about. The gemstone you select should be the color that appeals to you. If given the choice, most women's favorite gemstones have less to do with when they were born and more to do with what colors they like and what looks best on them.
How much money do I have to spend to get the gemstone I want?
Some gemstones are abundant and occur widely while others are rare and found in limited supply. Whatever color you desire, there is a gemstone to fit your budget. Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire are the classic red, green and blue gemstones. While these gemstones are readily available in small sizes, they can command significant dollars in larger sizes. If however, red, green or blue is what you're after, you may want to consider alternative gemstones in these hues. Admire a stunning red Tourmaline, an exquisite green Garnet or a magnificent blue Tanzanite. These generally are available in larger sizes and may cost less. Every color is available in the gemstone kingdom. Many of these gemstones come in a variety of sizes and price ranges. Ask your jeweler to help you explore all the possibilities and explain the difference in cost. Most likely, your difficult decision will be to choose between the two or three gemstones you love.
What is the difference between precious and semi-precious gemstones?
The term "semi-precious" is somewhat misleading as it suggests that some gemstones have inferior value. Years ago, most people considered Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire as the "precious" gemstones and all others as "semi-precious." In truth, all natural colored gemstones are rare and precious and their prices are determined by the availability and quality of the gemstone.
How do I clean and care for my colored gemstone jewelry?
The first rule for caring for gemstone jewelry is to treat it as you would any of your valuable possessions. Avoid wearing your gemstone jewelry when involved in activities that could cause it damage such as yard work, active sports and the like. You wouldn't wear your finest silk dress while gardening; likewise, there are inappropriate times to wear your fine jewelry. As for cleaning, keep it simple. The best way to clean your colored gemstone jewelry is to use a mild solution of soap and water. After letting your jewelry soak, gently brush your jewelry with a soft brush. Rinse the jewelry thoroughly, and lay it on a soft cloth to dry. It is best to avoid cleaning jewelry in ultrasonic cleaners, harsh chemicals or abrasives. Pearls, especially, should be protected from contact with perfumes, cosmetics and hairsprays. Store your jewelry in separate sections of your jewelry box or in a fabric pouch. For the best protection, bring your colored gemstone jewelry to your jeweler for regular inspection and thorough cleaning.
What do I do if l fall in love with a gemstone, but I don't like the mounting?
Unless you have chosen a gemstone with a very unusual cut or one that is set in a custom made ring, there is no reason you can't have the gemstone you desire in a setting you prefer. An experienced jeweler can offer you a variety of designs or custom settings that can accommodate the gemstone you have selected. Also, many gemstones are cut to consistent dimensions, known as "calibrated" sizes. These gemstones fit into a variety of different settings. Ask your jeweler to help you select the perfect combination for you.
Should I have my colored gemstone jewelry appraised and insured?
The first rule of shopping for colored gemstone jewelry is to work with a reputable jeweler. They should provide you with a certificate of value or an invoice with sufficient descriptions to have your jewelry properly insured. Most homeowner policies have dollar amount limitations for jewelry coverage, and you may have to obtain a "rider" to your policy to be sufficiently insured. It's a simple process so ask your insurance agent for details. The relatively minor expense required to insure your fine jewelry is well worth the peace-of-mind.
When having your jewelry appraised, it is best to work with an appraiser who has the appropriate professional credentials. Whether working in a retail jewelry store or independently, appraisers should have a Graduate Gemologist diploma or be titled as a Certified Gemologist Appraiser. Ask your jeweler and your insurance agent for their recommendations.