By Tony Cruz
In the last issue, I wrote about the breathtaking array of colors and effects that gemstones can possess. This time, a word of advice: buyer beware.
Gemstones can be mimicked by simulants and “fakes.” Just because a stone is red does not mean it is a ruby. It could be a piece of glass, or plastic, or even another gem manipulated to look like the real thing.
Most of these pieces are very good imitations and fool a lot of people. It takes training and experience to distinguish a natural gem from an imposter. Shop from reputable suppliers, and consult a professional trained in the science of distinguishing naturals from imitations if you have doubts. A reputable dealer is required under federal law to disclose if a stone is natural or not and if it has been altered to improve or change its appearance.
Over the centuries, many gems have been treated with heat or other methods to make a stone clearer or even change the color. These treatments are common, and the consumer should not be alarmed. Suppliers have learned how to introduce oil into emeralds, for instance, to fill any cracks or fissures, giving it a clearer and more pleasing look. Most emeralds are treated in some way. Those with a clear body, even and rich color distribution and are not treated demand the highest prices.
The easiest and most reliable way to pick a stone is to look at it. Once you are satisfied it is natural, look at it in different lighting. If the stone is appealing, it is because of its color, shape, the play of light or a particular phenomenon.
Some people are drawn to a stone’s uniqueness or folklore associated with it. Price is another factor. Most are not as highly priced as diamonds or rubies, sapphires or emeralds. Since they come in a variety of species and colors, many people are able to own a piece of jewelry with a good quality natural gemstone.
There are several factors influencing the price and value of the stone. Rarity is one. Many gems are found in the mines but only a few possess the qualities to be used in jewelry. The way the stone is cut is another. Did the cutter cut the stone in a way as to allow it to capture and display light and color to the best of its ability? Did the cutter sacrifice beauty for weight? Did the cutter properly orient the stone so that it would possess the best attributes of the species?
Clarity of the stone is another factor. Some varieties are known for their clear body and others for their inclusions. Each type is prized for their attributes. For example, emeralds are known to have inclusions. Some of them resemble little gardens and are desired for this attribute.
Color is a major factor when picking gemstones. Color variations from gem to gem will make a real difference in their values. Gems with the best color are always more attractive, rarer, and more highly valued than others.
Do not be afraid to try colored gemstones. Go to a reputable dealer and look at what is available. Ask questions! Try on different pieces! Consider using colored gemstones in custom jewelry. The colored stones will help make it a one of a kind piece of jewelry that you will treasure for many years and can pass on to your heirs so they can treasure it as well.
JWR Jewelers has staff that is trained in different aspects of colored stones including design, grading and appraising. Our staff is open to questions and willing to help you find the right colored stone jewelry for you.