Learn About Colored Gems

The term gemstone is applied to any of the one hundred or so naturally occurring minerals (diamond, ruby, sapphire, etc.) and organic materials (amber, pearls, ivory, coral, etc.) that are used for personal adornment or display. Beauty, rarity and durability are the major attributes of a gem material. A gem’s beauty comes from its brilliance, fire, luster and color. In their rough form these attributes are often masked. Only after fashion and sometimes through enhancements, can their hidden beauty be revealed. Rarity is governed by the availability of a gem and has the biggest impact of its value. Durability refers to a combination of the material’s hardness (ability to withstand scratching), toughness (ability to resist breakage), and stability (ability to withstand chemical or physical change resulting from heat, light or chemical exposure).

There are approximately 5,300 different minerals and dozens of organic materials known. However, less than one hundred are regarded as gemstones or ornamental materials for jewelry use and fewer than 50 are regarded as common.

Buying a gemstone can be a daunting task. It is an experience that requires trust, not only of our senses in judging what we can discern about the gem one is considering, but also the representations of the person selling the gem. Many factors set value. Some of them like weight are tangible; others like clarity, color or origin are not. Gemstones may be accompanied by a lab report listing the color, cut, clarity and weight. They may also contain a comment about treatments or origin. Certain gemstones such as ruby or sapphire can receive a premium in the market if they are believed to be from a particular country (origin).

 Commonly Recognized Birthstones
January: Garnet
February: Amethyst
March: Aquamarine and Bloodstone
April: Diamond
May: Emerald
June: Alexandrite, Pearl and Moonstone
July: Ruby
August: Peridot and Spinel
September: Sapphire
October: Opal and Tourmaline
November: Topaz and Citrine
December: Zircon, Turquoise and Tanzanite