Most colored gemstones derive their beauty from their color – purples, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, reds. In certain colored gemstones, color occurs naturally. In other colored gemstones, the final color occurs with assistance.
Gem cutters work to achieve a pleasing and affordable mix of color, weight (measured in carats), and a safe shape for mounting. During creation, a gemstone’s size is constrained by nature.
Sparkle adds to the beauty of a well-cut colored gemstone. The cut of a colored gemstone describes its shape and how it is fashioned.
The clarity of colored gemstones contributes to their beauty. Unless a gemstone is opaque and blocks all light, how light moves through the gemstone affects its beauty. Some gemstones have few internal inclusions to interrupt the passage of light.
Because of their rarity, gemstones in which color is naturally occurring are generally more valuable. Many gemstones are treated or enhanced in some way, such as with heat or safe irradiation, to achieve the beautiful colors or clarity we desire in the sizes we desire. These gems, which are less rare, can also be very valuable.
Some jewelers make synthetic colored gemstones available. Synthetic colored gemstones have all the optical, physical and chemical properties of naturally occurring gemstones, but they are created in a laboratory rather than occurring in nature. For some budgets, these synthetic materials are an acceptable choice.
A gemstone’s ability to be fashioned, mounted and worn is a function of how durable it is – a matter of both hardness and toughness. Some gemstones, such as sapphire, ruby and garnet, are well-suited to an active daily life and work well in rings, bracelets or cufflinks. Others, such as emeralds, pearls and opals call for earring or necklace mountings to keep them beautifully displayed but out of harm’s way.
Buying Colored Gemstone Jewelry
When buying colored gemstone jewelry, select what you consider beautiful. Because of the subtle differences in the tone and hue of the colored gemstone you are considering, look at several to find the one you prefer.
You have the right to know what you are buying, whether yours is a natural gemstone, an enhanced or treated gemstone, or a synthetic gemstone. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established guidelines for the jewelry industry stating that jewelers must disclose any treatment that is not permanent, that creates special care requirements, or that affects the gemstone’s value. Likewise, if a material is synthetic, it must be disclosed. Jewelers of America (JA) advises its members to disclose all such information, in the belief that a well-informed jewelry purchaser is a satisfied purchaser.
For more information visit the official Jewelry Information Center.