A fine emerald is a true rarity and of great demand in the
international marketplace. Prices for fine, three-carat emeralds can easily exceed $10,000
per carat. It is important to determine what you are willing to sacrifice - color, size or
clarity - when looking for the proper stone for the amount you can spend.
Early gem merchants in India sought to purify the color of the
emeralds by immersing them in clear oils or paraffin. They found that the clear oils and
waxes rendered surface fissures nearly invisible to the naked eye. Today, there are many
sophisticated technologies with which to clarity enhance emeralds. In addition to the oils
and waxes of ancient methods, clear resins are also used to penetrate open fissures
surfacing in the gemstones.
Emeralds, especially those from South America, which tend to have
more inclusions than those from Zambia, are routinely oiled to lesson the effect of
unsightly inclusions. For oil to enter inside the stone, inclusions must break the gem's
surface. If the emerald has inclusions, it is reasonable to assume that it has been oiled.
If the oil in no way adds to the color of the emerald, this practice is not considered
fraudulent; however, the use of colored oils is considered fraudulent.
Most emeralds are cut in what is called the "emerald cut"
because it affords the greatest retention of weight when cutting from the rough crystal.
Pear-shapes, ovals and especially marquise and round are difficult to find in finer stones
and a price premium of 10 to 15 percent should be expected.
Historically, the finest emeralds derive from Colombia. At their finest, Colombian stones
can be a vivid and intense pure green or slightly bluish-green.
Zambia is the major producer of African emeralds. Emeralds from this locality are
typically much cleaner than the South American emeralds. They may achieve a bright green,
but often have a bluish tinge.
Emerald, generally, has always been the object of great desire and lust. Perhaps no other
gemstone conjures up more images and associations with intrigue, beauty and richness.
Emerald green is a very lush and soothing color - so much so that the Emperor Nero viewed
the gruesome gladiator fights through an emerald. As the birth stone for May, it
represents spring and rebirth.
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Most customers have an unrealistic perception of what a
"good" ruby should cost. Actually fine rubies are scarce - more so since Myamar
(formerly Burma) has virtually ceased production and export of rubies in this decade.
Therefore, any stones coming out of Myamar have been smuggled out of the country. The
prices for truly fine rubies can be staggering; often prices are higher than comparable
Imperfections and impurities may be removed by controlled heating of
the gemstones. Some rubies have fissures that break the stone surface which are filled
with a glass-like byproduct of the heating process.
Historically, the finest rubies have come from Burma. They can achieve a medium-toned,
intense, pure red, which fluoresces in ultraviolet or daylight. Pigeon's blood was a term
often used to refer to the red of a fine Burmese ruby. However, since it doesn't convey a
color with any accuracy, it is not recommended for use today.
These are typically thought of as being darker in tone than Burmese rubies and often
brownish-red to dark purple-red. The Thai ruby makes up the bulk of the world's production
and comes in all qualities.
There is a price premium placed on both the size and shape of the
ruby. A good rule of thumb for the price per carat is the larger the stone, the greater
the price per carat. This is not an exponential scale. A three-carat stone, of equal
quality, will be about four times the price of a one-carat stone and twice the price of a
two-carat stone. Shape also plays an important factor in pricing. The oval and cushion
shaped stones bring a higher price per carat than other cuts of equal quality and weight.
Generally, these shapes allow the cutter to get the most brilliant gemstones with the
greatest weight recovery. For fine stones, the marquise is seen as a novelty cut and
usually used only when the rough dictates the cut for the best weight retention. Emerald
cut, with the pavilion cut in long rectangle "step" facets, does not bring out a
ruby's brilliance as the oval and cushion shapes.
Red is an emotional and passionate color. Ruby jewelry commands attention. Rubies are
especially beautiful accented by diamonds and are appropriate for both yellow and white
gold. As July's birth stone, rubies brings excitement to the magic of hot summer nights.
Rubies are known as the "King of Gems" because of its rarity and beauty.
Europeans have often used rubies, not diamonds, as engagement rings.
While Kashmir and Burma have produced some extremely fine sapphires,
the finest stones are not limited to those particular localities. Sapphires come in all
colors, except red. It is the same stone, corundum, as ruby, therefore, red corundum is a
ruby and every other color is a sapphire.
Since ancient times, man has evolved methods to enhance the purest
hues of sapphire. This is often achieved by controlled heating of the gemstone to improve
its clarity and color. Today, over 90% of the world's sapphires are heat-treated. Heating
sapphires is a permanent enhancement, as lasting as the gemstones themselves. Blue
sapphires are routinely heated, and if not for this fact, many people would never be able
to afford or appreciate one of their own. It is safe to assume that all sapphires you see
are heated unless specifically noted.
Characterized by a lighter, cornflower blue color, these stones are highly saturated with
a medium blue to slightly violetish-blue color, sometimes having a soft, velvety quality.
These stones are considered very fine, with a good saturation of medium blue to
violet-blue color. It is generally a "crisper" color than the Kashmir sapphire.
The color is sometimes referred to as a royal blue color.
From Sri Lanka, these sapphires are generalized as very light to medium blue, grayish blue
to blue-violet color. Because of the lighter tones, these stones can be quite brilliant.
Thai and Australian sapphires
Typically, these stones are dark in tone and of a black-blue color.
Fine blue sapphire, with its cool, tranquil coloring, is internationally valued and
desired. Sapphire lends itself to both classic and contemporary styles. Blue is a color
that coordinates with many other colors, becoming almost neutral tone at times. This,
combined with sapphire's natural durability makes it perfect for a piece that will be worn
Synthetic Precious Gemstone
A synthetic, or created, gem material is one with essentially the
same physical, chemical and optical properties as its natural counterpart. There cannot be
a synthetic gem if there is not a natural gem. Although many gem materials have been
synthesized experimentally, only a relative few synthetic gems are available in commercial
The flame fusion process currently produces synthetic spinel, synthetic ruby, synthetic
star ruby, synthetic star sapphire and synthetic sapphire in all colors. It is a process
of bringing the powder compounds up to an extremely high temperature, to the point at
which the compound melts to create a liquid that will slowly cool and crystallize into the
desired gem material. The cooling process currently produces synthetic alexandrite,
synthetic ruby, synthetic sapphire in many colors and yttrium aluminum garnet -
"YAG" in all colors.
The flux process, originally pioneered by Tom Chatham, currently produces synthetic
alexandrite, synthetic emerald, synthetic ruby, synthetic sapphire in blue, orange, and
pink, YAG, primarily green and synthetic spinel. This process takes the powder compounds
and adds a liquid solution to dissolve the compound prior to super heating. This process
produces a cleaner, clearer gem material. The hydrothermal process currently produces
synthetic quartz in amethyst, citrine, green rock crystal, blue and pink varieties,
synthetic ruby, synthetic sapphire, and synthetic beryl in various colors including
emerald. This process incorporates the use of a reactor in the super heating process. It
also produces a cleaner, clearer gem material.
Semi precious gemstone jewelry offers the customer a chance,
generally, for a larger, more impressive statement in jewelry than it's precious gemstone
cousins. Still, several stones - Aqua, Alexandrite and Tanzanite for instance, often
command comparable prices to precious color.
Believed by the ancient Greeks to have been stained by the wine of the god Bacchus, this
stone was thought a charm against intoxication and so named "amethustos" or
"not drunken". Commercial quality amethyst is plentiful, but the rich
"grape jelly" color amethyst with red secondary coloration is anything but
commonplace. Large, fine amethyst is difficult to find - especially with no apparent
zoning of color.
Darker hues of amethyst are rarely enhanced, but sometimes if they are too dark, they are
heated to lighten the color. Brownish varieties, when heated, magically turn into the
bright yellow or orange colors known as Citrine. This method is permanent and will last
for the life of the gemstone.
Amethyst is the traditional birthstone for the month of February. In many cultures,
amethyst was reserved only for the imperial family. Because of this association with
royalty, it is one of the most popular stones in the semi precious gemstone family. While
the dark purple amethyst looks particularly striking set in yellow gold, the paler,
lighter stones are best set in the increasing popular silver or white gold. Amethyst has
an excellent durability and can be worn for almost any occasion.
Derived from Latin, the name aquamarine literally means "sea-water", a tribute
to its beautiful blue color. Long associated with tranquility and happiness, aquamarine
was also thought to instill courage, cure laziness, and quicken the intellect. Aquamarine
is priced based on depth and purity of the blue color. With the Zambian aqua on the
market, smaller sized, darkly colored stones in a variety of shapes are not as difficult
to find as in the past.
While many aquamarines are greenish when mined, these gemstones are heated to enhance
their blue color permanently. Yet, many aquamarine fanciers prefer the greenish hues,
saying the greener tones remind them more of the sea.
Aquamarine is the traditional birthstone for March. The Zambian material now allows a
selection of darker blue stones. Aqua is a gem with high name recognition. It has been a
jewelry favorite since Edwardian times, when it was set mostly in white gold. It is a
stone that looks equally good set in yellow or white gold. Aquamarine is believed to
remedy idleness, help in winning disputes and protect from slander, which makes it an idle
gift for the college graduate. It also protects against dangers and illnesses at sea, thus
an appropriate for yachtsmen or sailors.
Generally, topaz is found in varying combinations gold, orange, clear, red and pink, and
brown. Through a combination of irradiation and then heating, the color can be changed to
varying shades of blue. This enhancement process is permanent.
When this color first came out in the early 1980's, it was used as an affordable
alternative to aqua. Little by little, it has gained it's own place is the hearts of both
the consumer and the retailer alike. Topaz has a hardness of 8 on the Moh's scale and is
therefore resistant to scratches and can achieve a brilliant polish.
Both the London blue and the Swiss blue are vibrant colors that coordinate well with many
colors in a wardrobe. Topaz is a brilliant gemstone readily available in eye clean
qualities. While the lighter stones can be used as an alternative for the March birth
stone - aqua, the more intensely color stones have almost replaced blue zircon as the
birth stone for December.
Vivid and golden-hued, this gemstone takes its name from the French for lemon. It was once
carried as a talisman against everything from snakebite to evil thoughts. Historically
mistaken for topaz, citrine is distinctly different even though its color may be similar.
Of the quartz family, citrine occurs primarily in Brazil in shades of pale yellow to
yellow-brown. It was long ago discovered that heating citrine, amethyst or other quartz
would create the brilliant honey yellow and bold Madeira colors we now associate with this
Today's fashion colors makes citrine a natural accessory to many outfits in a customer's
wardrobe. Since citrine is a quartz, it is a durable stone that can take everyday wear.
Since there are many shades of citrine, November's birth stone is easy to match to any
Red garnets come in a variety of colors - red, reddish brown and purplish pink. The
purplish pink garnets, known as rhodolite garnet, is generally the higher priced garnet.
The darker, reddish garnets are also enjoyed by many providing they are bright and well
Reddish-garnet looks great combined with other colored gemstones such as amethyst, peridot
and black onyx. True red garnet can be extremely bright and are sharp when contrasted
against the richness of yellow gold.
Opals come in a variety of intense colors and no two stones are alike. Black opal has a
dark body or background, which accentuates its "fire". White opal can also
display flashes of color. Found primarily in Australia as well as Mexico, opals are
delicate by nature, and therefore should not be worn as everyday jewelry.
Opal is a mysterious gemstone, thought to be both a symbol of hope and a jinx. It was once
thought to be a gift from heaven that would fall in flashes of lightning. It is the birth
stone for the month of October.
Although its name is simply a French word derived from the Arabic for green, peridot has
always been surrounded by complex superstitions. It was believed to dissolve enchantments,
to protect its wearer from evil, and to glow in the dark. Its color ranges from springtime
yellow-green to a warm olive green. Peridot is also distinguished by its soft, velvety
Mined on the Egyptian island of Zebirget since ancient times, peridot also comes from
Mayamar (Burma) although most are found in Arizona and the southwestern United States.
Typical sizes of Arizonian peridot are from under one carat to three carats. Peridot,
having a hardness of 6.5 to 7, is borderline soft, and therefore care should be taken if
used as an everyday ring; over time, stones in rings may show wear in the way of scratches
and worn facets. It has no known enhancements.
Fine peridot is an acquired taste. It is for those with sophisticated gemstone taste. The
current trends of color make the peridot a wonderful accent to any wardrobe. When better
quality peridot is used, even the most skeptical consumer, should be able to find a piece
of jewelry to complement today's fashion colors. No other gemstone is colored like
peridot; it is an original. Some of Cleopatra's emeralds were probably fine peridot from
Tanzanite comes from the rich mineral soil of Tanzania in the eastern part of Africa and
was only discovered in 1967. As a relative newcomer to the gemstone kingdom, time has not
blessed this stone with a rich legend and lore, which surrounds the other gemstones.
Tanzanite is named after its country of origin and to date, has been found nowhere else on
earth. Rarely pure blue, Tanzanite almost always displays its signature overtones of
purple. In the smaller sizes, the color tends toward the lighter tones, while the larger
stones typically displays the deeper, richer color.
All tanzanite on the market are subjected to heat treatment. Though heating can occur
naturally in the earth, most tanzanites start as light brownish-purple and must undergo
heating to turn the deep, rich indigo blue that is in demand.
Tanzanite is a relatively soft stone, only measuring around a 5.5 to 6 on the hardness
scale. It is susceptible to sudden changes in temperature and can crack due to thermal
shock. Because of this, care should be taken when sizing a tanzanite ring, and it is best
not to clean them ultrasonically.
Tanzanite comes from one location in Tanzania. Because of East African political and
economic turmoil, it is difficult to ascertain the status of further production.
Therefore, Tanzanite is a great gemstone to buy now, as it will probably become scarcer.
The vivid, rich colors and the origin of Tanzanite are exotic.
Tourmaline is another gemstone that comes in a variety of colors, among them are blue,
green and pink. There are several enhancements for the gemstone that can take a very dark
stone and lighten is to green or a light, near colorless stone and deepen the color to
deep pink or even red. Tourmaline is also found in a bi-color state with both pink and
green, which is called watermelon tourmaline. Tourmaline is primarily found in Brazil,
Kenya, Sri Lanka and the United States.
Pink tourmaline alternates with opal as the birthstone for October and is the gemstone
given for the 17th anniversary. The green tourmaline is the gemstone designated for the
10th wedding anniversary. During the 1600's, the Spanish mined and exported to Europe
green tourmaline, calling it Brazilian emeralds.