Understanding The Four Main Precious Gemstones
WHAT ARE "PRECIOUS GEMSTONES"?
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.
DIAMOND FACTS AND HISTORY
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.
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.
DIAMOND QUALITY FACTORS
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.
DIAMOND JEWELRY IN BOCA RATON
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.
RUBY FACTS AND HISTORY
RUBY QUALITY FACTORS
- 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:
Maximize carat weight
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.
RUBY TREATMENT & CLEANING
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.
RUBY JEWELRY IN BOCA RATON
SAPPHIRE FACTS AND HISTORY
SAPPHIRE QUALITY FACTORS
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.
SAPPHIRE TREATMENT & CLEANING
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.
5 OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS SAPPHIRES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SAPPHIRE JEWELRY IN BOCA RATON
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.
EMERALD FACTS AND HISTORY
EMERALD QUALITY FACTORS
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.
EMERALD TREATMENT & CLEANING
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.
EMERALD JEWELRY IN BOCA RATON
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.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GEMSTONE CERTIFICATION
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.
GEMSTONE JEWELRY NEAR ME
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!