A buyer's guide to choosing a quality, loose, faceted, colored gemstone online. Learn what enhances and detracts from digital images and read tips on how to choose a stone that's right for you.
With so many sources for loose, faceted, colored gemstones, many people can become quite confused at the selections available on how to select a quality stone. Listed below are some great and simple tips that any buyer can benefit from when choosing to purchase a loose faceted gemstone.
Whether a buyer is choosing a stone just for collection or even for creating that perfect unique piece of jewelry like a designer ring, it's important to know how to gage quality from something that is sub-par.
Image, Image, Image
Many incredible gems are available online that wouldn't be readily available in person so for buyers, it's great to take advantage of sales online. However, it's important to know some basics when choosing the right stone. Lighting and background are hugely important for stones displayed in digital images or even is small video clips that some sellers use to promote the color and clarity of the stone. Of course sellers want the stones to "pop" and "sparkle" with strong saturation and scintillation, and there are certain techniques some sellers use to make the stone more appealing. However, this can throw off the actual visual display of the stone once it's handled in person so be aware of lighting and backgrounds. Stones that are soft in color, that have less saturation than what the image shows, is easy to spot if you know what to look for. Many stones that are light in saturation will be displayed with really bright lighting or very lightly colored cloth or tables that accentuate the natural color of the stone. So, let's say we have a peachy pink Morganite but the stone is really light, which can detract from the value, so it is displayed on a background that makes the stone appear deeper in hue. Look for what the stone is set against. Is the background white or slightly pink? This can make the stone appear pinker than what it actually is. A stone that is featured on a slightly gray or offset color will show it's color in a truer shade.
The same goes for dark stones too. Let's say a buyer is in the market for a Tanzanite. He will want a stone that is relatively deep in hue which adds to the value. The lighter the stone, the less valuable it will be or at least should be. Some sellers bank on the name of Tanzanite even though the color and clarity are to be desired. A great Tanzanite is a mix between Sapphire blue and Amethyst purple. This is a single source gem, which means it is only found in one location throughout the world, in Tanzania; hence, the name Tanzanite. This gemstone is nearing the completion of it's gem quality material that is coming out of the mine and quality gems are becoming harder to find. Most Tanzanite on the market is soft lilac or a lighter cobalt blue now which is much lighter than the original material that was initially discovered that made it most valuable. So, a buyer will want to search for a gem that is deep with a perfect blend of the two colors. This may be hard to find. A properly displayed Tanzanite will be shown on a very neutral background such as white or even on a mirror and the lighting should be bright but not too florescent, as to give an illusion of deeper hues.
The best advice, is to look for stones that appear in multiple images and at least one video clip if it's available so the buyer can see not only the dimensions and color of the stone, but how it refracts in the light as well as any inclusions that one image can conceal.
Many people are confused by the description of clarity for a stone. Listed below is the guide that is used by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for discerning and classifying the clarity of stones.
GIA Clarity Scale
(FL) FLAWLESS (Loupe Clean)
Shows no inclusions or blemishes of any sort under 10X magnification.
(IF) INTERNALLY FLAWLESS (Loupe Clean)
Has no inclusions when examined using 10X magnification, but will have some minor blemishes.
(VVS1 and VVS2) VERY VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (Eye Clean)
Contains minute inclusions that are difficult even for experienced graders to see under 10X magnification.
(VS1 and VS2) VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (Eye Clean)
Contains minute inclusions such as small crystals, clouds, or feathers when observed with effort under 10X magnification.
(SI1 and SI2) SLIGHTLY INCLUDED
Contains inclusions (clouds, included crystals, knots, cavities, and feathers) that are noticeable under 10X magnification.
(I1, I2, I3) INCLUDED
Contains inclusions (possibly large feathers or large included crystals) that are obvious under 10X magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.
Some stones are more valuable when they are heavily included. For example, Rutilated Quartz has multiple inclusions with rutiles, mostly of copper but other minerals and materials are also found in the quartz.
It is also important to make note of the calibration of loose gems, especially if a buyer is intending to set the stone into jewelry, like a ring.
Calibrated stones are measured in single numbers. For example, a common round cut appears in 4mm, 6mm,8mm and so on. If a stone is not calibrated, it will be listed like this: 4.23 x 4. 25 x 4.76. This shows uneven cuts when it should be a simple 4mm all the way around. This stone can still be mounted, but it would require a larger setting such as a 4.5mm or 5mm round setting and this can compromise the security of the stone in the setting.
Waiting Until the Last Minute May Be the Best Option
When it comes to auctions online, especially through EBay, last minute auctions give a buyer the opportunity to purchase the gem for the price they intend and also, some sellers may even change their listed price at the last moment to ensure a sale. There are also close-out auctions that buyers can benefit from by waiting until the end or near end of the auction just in case prices are dropped to move the product.
Research Your Gem
With all gemstones, faceted included, it's best to research your gem to be sure you're not only receiving a fair price, but it's great to have background information such as rarity, hardness, resellers values and more. Depending on the intention of the purchase of the stone, having background information on the gems will only add to the wisdom of choosing the right one.
On a side note, it is also important to check for the availability for a Certificate of Authenticity and for Return Policies.