Understanding The Four Main Precious Gemstones

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Understanding The Four Main Precious Gemstones

Diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are four of the most valuable and sought-after gemstones in the world. These are typically the gemstones you’ll see in crowns, swords, jewelry, weaponry, sacred and precious objects worn by the royalty of many cultures. This has been the case for many centuries.


There are only four gemstones considered to be truly precious: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. To be considered precious, a stone must be see-through and faceted. These four gems have always been the most sought-after and pricey.

Every other gemstone that isn’t one of the above four is considered to be semi-precious. There is no scientific backing between the distinction. When these stones were first categorized, it was mainly due to the rarity and the value of the 4 precious stones versus the rest. Today, there are some semi precious stones that are more rare and more valuable than the precious stones.  


cushion cut diamond
Possessing the highest shine of all transparent gemstones, diamond is the hardest material on earth that can only be scratched with another diamond. Its name comes from the ancient Greek adámas meaning “unbreakable”.
In addition to being the traditional birthstone for those born in April, the diamond is the gift of choice for the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries. Today the diamond engagement ring is associated as the universal symbol of love and marriage. 


Many ancient cultures believed that diamonds gave the wearer strength and courage during battle. Some kings had even went as far as wearing diamonds on their armor as they rode into battle to feel protected. Diamonds were also thought to have healing properties that were able to cure ailments ranging from fatigue to mental illness.

As mentioned above, a diamond is so strong, that its name comes from the Greek word adamas, meaning “invincible” or “unbreakable.” They are associated with the terms invincible and unbreakable because of their hardness. The diamond is rated a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, which makes it the hardest naturally found mineral substance on Earth. In fact, its structure makes it 58 times harder than anything in nature. The only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond.

Diamonds are made from pure carbon. They are formed more than 100 miles beneath Earth's surface over a billion years ago. Over the years they were brought up to the surface from volcanic eruptions. The main producers of diamonds are South Africa, Botswana, and Russia. They are also mined in India, Brazil, China, Thailand, Canada, and the United States.

white gold diamond engagement ring


Apart from white or colorless, diamonds occur in several other colors as well. Colored diamonds are extremely rare. Each is one of a kind. The array of colors available are blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink to purple, brown, and black. Colored diamonds range in intensity from faint to vivid and generally the more saturated the color, the higher the value is. Red diamonds are actually the most rare and only a handful are known to exist.

yellow diamond


Every diamond is graded based on the 4 C's which determines their quality and value. These 4 C's are color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. ( To learn more about the 4 C's, read our article about Buying An Engagement Ring )

    • Diamond Color - Refers to the absence of color in a diamond. Less color is more valuable and sought after.

    • Diamond Cut - Refers to the shape of a diamond and the proportions of the stone. 

    • Diamond Clarity - Measures imperfections within the diamond. The less imperfections, the more flawless the diamond.

    • Diamond Carat Weight - Measures the weight of the stone. The higher the weight the bigger the stone.


The largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found is called the Cullinan. It was discovered in 1905 in South Africa, weighing 3,106.75 carats. It was cut into 105 diamonds including the Cullinan I (Great Star of Africa) which weighed 530.2 carats and the Cullinan II (Lesser Star of Africa) which weighed 317.4 carats. Both of these diamonds are now part of British crown jewels. 


yellow gold diamond tennis bracelet 


Looking for diamond jewelry in Boca Raton? Devon's Diamonds & Decor has got you covered. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view our selection of diamond jewelry; including diamond rings, diamond earrings, diamond bracelets and diamond necklaces.


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ruby boca raton jewelry
The ruby is the second most sought-after gemstone, after the diamond, due to its rarity, uniqueness, and value. The ruby is the birthstone for July and the gem for the 15th and 40th anniversaries. The name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “King of Gems.” These gems have been treasured throughout history.


Rubies were discovered over 2,000 years ago and traditionally are said to have protective powers. Early cultures treasured rubies for their similarity to the redness of the blood in their veins and believed that rubies held the power of life.
Historically, Asia has been the major producer of ruby gems. The Mogok Valley of Upper Burma, is famous for being the main source for the finest and rarest rubies. Although, there are many other sources including the United States, Thailand, Australia,Vietnam, Brazil, India and Africa. The origin of rubies affects their value.
     Rubies have a hardness of 9 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, making them the second hardest substance on Earth, after diamonds. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum. The color comes from traces of chromium. All other color varieties of corundum are referred to as sapphire. A ruby’s vibrant red color and its hardness make it perfect for a stunning piece of jewelry. Rubies are often mixed with diamonds and/or other gemstones to make various types of jewelry. 
In gemology, only four gems qualify for the "precious gems" category. These "precious gems" consist of the diamond, emerald, sapphire and the ruby. Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market.
white gold Burmese ruby and diamond ring


Given the lack of a standardized ruby grading system, it is important to know what to look for when purchasing ruby jewelry.
  • Ruby Color - This is the most significant factor affecting a ruby’s value. The finest quality rubies are a pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red and have vivid color saturation. A ruby's color must be neither too dark nor too light to be considered finest quality. If the color is too dark and will effect the stones brightness in a negative way. On the contrary, if the color is too light, the stone is considered a pink sapphire. The brightest and most valuable color of ruby is often a Burmese Ruby.
  • Ruby Cut - Rubies are commonly fashioned as mixed cuts, which have brilliant-cut crowns and step-cut pavilions. With rubies, cut refers to how the stone is faceted, its dimensions, and its symmetry. When cutting rubies, there are four factors that gem cutters keep in mind:
    1. Maximize color

    2. Maximize carat weight

    3. Minimize inclusions

    4. Cut to the correct shape

  • Ruby Clarity - Clarity is also extremely important for rubies. Small imperfections in the stones, called inclusions, decrease the clarity grade for rubies. Ruby value depends on how visible the inclusions are. If a ruby's inclusions affect its transparency or brilliance, they reduce the gem’s value significantly. To determine a grade, a gemologist will measure the size, location, number, color, and quality of the inclusions. Rubies without flaws are extremely rare so almost all rubies come with imperfections. It is important to keep that in mind when shopping for a ruby because there could be a possibility that it is synthetic or lab-created.
  • Ruby Carat Weight - Carat weight works the same for rubies as it does for diamonds; the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone. Fine-quality rubies over one carat are very rare and price goes up significantly as size increases.


 The prices of fine-quality rubies have been breaking auction records. On May 12, 2015, a 25.59-carat ruby ring sold for $1,266,901 per carat, which is a total of $32.4 million. This set a new record at auction for a colored gemstone. 


It is important to know that 99% of rubies on the market today have undergone some type of treatment to improve color or clarity. The most common treatment performed on rubies is heating. The rubies are heated to extreme temperatures above 1750 degrees. Heat treatment can intensify a rubies color making it more "red". Another benefit of heat treatment is that it can dissolve any rutile inclusions, making them less visible when looking into the stone. For cleaning purposes, warm soapy water is always safe. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat-treated, and lattice diffusion treated stones.

burmese ruby and diamond tennis bracelet


    Looking for ruby jewelry in Boca Raton? Devon's Diamonds & Decor has got you covered. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view our selection of ruby jewelry; including ruby rings, ruby earrings, ruby bracelets and ruby necklaces.
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    blue sapphires
    When it comes to blue gemstones, sapphire is simply unbeatable. 
    Sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September. It is a gem that has been cherished for thousands of years. “Sapphire” comes from the Greek word sappheiros, which means blue stone. Although the term sapphire usually refers to the blue variety (which is the most popular) of corundum (ruby is the red variety). In addition to being the September birthstone, sapphire is also the gem commemorating the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries. 


    Sapphire is the blue variety of the mineral Corundum. It is one of the "Big 3" of jewelry gemstones—the other two being emerald and ruby. Sapphire is a durable stone that is best known as a blue gem, but is also available in most colors. Sapphires are the second hardest mineral known to man, rating 9 on the Mohs scale (diamonds are a 10). Its exceptional hardness and toughness makes them superior gemstones, especially when made with jewelry.
    Today a great deal of high quality sapphires are mined from the island of SriLanka, once known to be Ceylon. Ceylon sapphires have exceptional qualities such as unflawed hues, immaculate transparency and they come in desirable sizes. Other common places to find sapphires include Burma, Australia, Thailand, Western Cambodia, China, and Nigeria. They are also found right here in the United States, with Montana's sapphires being one of the most prized. Montana was actually the first place in the United States to discover gem-quality sapphires. They were discovered in 1865 by early gold prospectors mining the Missouri river.  
    white gold blue sapphire and diamond halo rings


    Given the lack of a standardized sapphire grading system, it is important to know what to look for when purchasing sapphire jewelry.

    • Sapphire Color: This is the most important quality factor when it comes to grading a sapphire. The most highly valued blue sapphires are velvety blue to violetish blue, in medium to medium dark tones. While most people are familiar with the blue variant of sapphires, they do come in almost every color. The only color corundum stone that the term sapphire is not used for is red, which is considered a ruby. The other colors for sapphire are yellow, purple, orange, and green. Each color has its own quality variations. Preferred sapphires have strong to vivid color saturation, regardless of hue. 
    • Sapphire Cut: This is one of the most important factors in appearance. Like diamonds, sapphires are cut in the same shape styles. In terms of grading the cut of a sapphire, there is a lack of standardization because each stone is cut to maximize it’s color. To achieve the best overall color, maintain the best proportions, and retain the most weight possible, cutters focus on factors like color zoning, pleochroism, and the lightness or darkness of a stone.
    • Sapphire Clarity: This refers to the inclusions. Unlike diamonds, where the clarity is graded based on their clarity at 10x magnification, sapphires are looked at based on their visual appearance. Sapphires typically have some inclusions but if they have extremely high clarity, they will be rare and very valuable. The price can drop if the inclusions threaten the stone’s durability.
    • Sapphire Carat Weight: This allows for precise measurements. Sapphires tend to be heavier than diamonds. Therefore a 1 carat diamond is going to appear bigger than a 1 carat sapphire. Sapphires can range in size anywhere from a few points to hundreds of carats. Most commercial-quality blue sapphires weigh less than 5 carats.


    Like rubies, most sapphires today are heated, which is the most common treatment for the stone. Sapphires are heated for several hours before they are cut. Unheated sapphires that are a rich blue can command enormous prices in today’s market. Warm, soapy water is always a safe choice for cleaning the September birthstone. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated and heat-treated sapphires.



    1. The Star of India - Weighing in at 563.35 carats, the Star of India is one of the largest sapphires in the world, with a unique star shape that appears on both sides. 

    2. Princess Diana's Sapphire and Pearl Choker - This was originally given to Princess Diana as a brooch by the late Queen Mother. Princess Diana then turned this stunning gem into a stunning choker featuring seven strands of pearls.

    3. The Blue Giant of the Orient - Weighing in at 466 carats, the Blue Giant of the Orient is the largest faceted sapphire in the world. In 1907, it disappeared under mysterious circumstances and only resurfaced this century.

    4. The Logan Blue Sapphire - Weighing in at 422.99 carats, this sapphire is internally flawless and the second largest faceted blue sapphire in the world.

    5. Stuart Sapphire - Weighing in at 104 carats this cabochon-cut sapphire is part of the Royal Crown Jewels of Queen Elizabeth II. It was acquired by her ancestors in the 14th century.

    white gold diamond and sapphire tennis bracelet


    Looking for sapphire jewelry in Boca Raton? Devon's Diamonds & Decor has got you covered. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view our selection of sapphire jewelry; including sapphire rings, sapphire earrings, sapphire bracelets and sapphire necklaces.

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    emerald boca raton
    Emeralds are one of the most beautiful and intriguing gemstones. It is considered the gem of spring and it's known for its vivid green color. The word “emerald” comes from the word smaragdos, which is ancient Greek for a green gem. Besides the emerald being May's birthstone, it's the gemstone given for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.


    Emeralds are found all over the world but Colombia has been the main source of the finest emeralds for more than 500 years. In fact, Colombian emeralds are the standard by which all other emeralds are measured. The May birthstone can also be found in Africa, Zambia to be exact, being another major source. Pakistan and Afghanistan are important producers as well.
    The emerald is believed to symbolize loyalty, new beginnings, and peace, making the emerald a meaningful gift to be treasured. Like aquamarine, emerald is from the beryl family of minerals. It is also ranked a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. This means that it is more susceptible to scratching than a diamond, which ranks 10 on the scale. 
    The first known emerald mines existed in Egypt. It is believed that these mines were worked as early as 3500BC. The Ancient Egyptians prized the stone so much that they would bury mummies with it to represent 'eternal youth'. These gorgeous green gems were valued by many cultures. The emerald was often used as currency and worn as jewelry in places like ancient Greece and Rome. 
    white gold Colombian emerald and diamond ring


    Given the lack of a standardized emerald grading system, it is important to know what to look for when purchasing emerald jewelry.

    • Emerald Color: This is the most important aspect effecting the value of the emerald. Color should be evenly distributed and not too dark. Emerald color can range from light green to a deep, rich green. The deeper or more green an emerald is, the more valuable. The rarest emeralds will be an intense green-blue.
    • Emerald Cut: This is very important on an emerald because the proper cut will maximize the green color that is desired. A popular cut for an emerald is the emerald shape. This cut brightens the stone and adds sparkle while minimizing inclusions.
    • Emerald Clarity: Emeralds are usually highly included. This means the clarity of May’s birthstone is not graded under 10x magnification like the diamond but instead emeralds are graded by the naked eye. Inclusions are so common to an emerald that they do not greatly affect price. The value lies in the gem’s color.
    • Emerald Carat Weight: There is a wide price range between smaller emeralds and larger ones. Some of the most famous emeralds in private collections or museums weigh hundreds of carats and are considered to be priceless.


    One of the largest rough emeralds ever found is the Bahia Emerald, weighing approximately 752 lbs (approximately 1,700,000 carats). It was discovered in 2001 from a mine in Bahia, Brazil. The stone has been valued at around $400 million, but the true value is unclear.


      The availability of a high-quality emerald is limited so they are often treated. There are a number of processes used to alter and improve the color and clarity of an emerald, but the most common treatment method is oiling. Oils are often used to fill surface-reaching fractures in emeralds. This is done to reduce the visibility of the fractures and improve the clarity and color. Oil treatments are not necessarily permanent and stable. Time, heat, or improper cleaning, will cause the oil to evaporate, change color, or leach out of the stone. This is not a problem because emeralds can be re-oiled if the oil is accidentally removed or it has become discolored. For cleaning purposes, using warm, soapy water coupled with gentle scrubbing is the safest way to clean emeralds. It’s risky to clean them ultrasonically or with steam because the ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to sweat out of fractures. 


        colombian emerald and diamond tennis bracelet


          Looking for emerald jewelry in Boca Raton? Devon's Diamonds & Decor has got you covered. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view our selection of emerald jewelry; including emerald rings, emerald earrings, emerald bracelets and emerald necklaces.

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          Even though most of us immediately think of diamonds when it comes to rare and expensive gemstones, let’s not forget that there are three other contenders worth investing in. Often times when purchasing a fine quality gemstone it will be accompanied by a certificate. There are countless laboratories that grade diamonds and gemstones some of which are good and some not so good. G.I.A (Gemology Institute Of America) is known as one of the top labs in the world who grade precious gemstones. Two other very respected laboratories that grade only colored stones (rubies, sapphires & emeralds) are G.R.S (Gem Research Swiss-Lab) and AGL (American Gemological Laboratories).

          When looking over a lab report (certificate) you can trust, remember that origin is a very important factor as well as treatment, both of which should be indicated on the certificate (lab report). We do not recommend purchasing a larger fine gemstone or diamond without a TRUSTED lab report! There has been many instances of innocent victims being fooled by bogus lab reports claiming false information.


          When purchasing a gemstone, keep in mind, all gemstones are precious in the sense of personal meaning and value to you personally. The emotional value of a piece of jewelry can far outweigh its monetary value. Do you have a piece of jewelry that holds sentimental value, but maybe doesn’t quite fit your style? Don’t let it sit around unappreciated, bring it to Devon's Diamonds & Decor and let us turn your gemstone into something invaluable and precious to you!

          Devon's Diamonds & Decor, your local Boca Raton jeweler, offers gemstone necklaces, gemstone pendants, gemstone bracelets, gemstone eternity bands, gemstone earrings, and more! Visit our jewelry store in Boca Raton today!

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