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What is Gemstones?

Factually, a gemstone may be a pure chemical element (diamond is essentially pure carbon), a chemical compound (quartz is silicon dioxide, SiO2), or a more complex mixture of various compounds and elements. However, most people tend to think of gemstone as a stone that is beautiful, rare, and durable for use in jewelry once it is carefully cut and polished.

The value of a gemstone today is directly related to many factors such as, rarity, size, color, clarity, cutting shape, enhancement and the curve of supply and demand. For instance, "bigger is better" applies to gemstone simply because larger stones are hard to find, thus more costly.  If supplies of gemstones surplus consumers demands, price drops accordingly. However, please keep in mind that our perception and emotion play a vital role in determining the value of gemstone. This is why eyes catching stone tends to be pricey.

Gemstones Buyer's guide

Understanding the characteristics of  gemstones can help you to make a rewarding purchase and shop with confident. Quality of gemstones are determined by the jewelers standard known as "4 C's".

  1. Color
  2. Clarity
  3. Cut
  4. Carat Weight


The beautiful color of a gemstone is its most defining characteristic, it is the single most important factor when evaluating colored gems. Hue, Saturation and Tone are elements to be considered when examines gemstone color.

  1. Hue - Generally speaking, gems with hues that most closely resemble the red, green and blue (RGB) sensors in our eyes are most popular. It's quite hard find a stone that exhibits pure color. For instance, Blue Nile blue sapphires range in hue from "slightly purplish-blue" to "slightly greenish-blue" and rubies range from "slightly orangish-red" to "slightly purplish-red".


Hue position chart by  Illustration © R.W. Hughes

  1. Saturation - Also known as intensity or color purity. The quality of color stone with same hue position is determined by it's saturation, because human eyes tend to be more attracted by vivid color such as vivid blue or red. Keep in mind that the most desirable gemstones should show little or free of gray or brown.
  2. Tone - The degree of lightness or darkness of a color, as a function of the amount of light absorbed. Tone is one of the important factors when judging a color stone, however, a lighting condition can make a huge difference to determine the degree of lightness and darkness. Sky light is by far the most standard source when evaluating color gems.


Clarity is an evaluation of internal characteristics, judged under 10x magnification. Most gems contain micro level tiny natural features called inclusions. Fewer inclusions reveal a gem's beauty. However, one should keep in mind that stones with fewer or no inclusions are not necessarily "better", but rather are "rarer" in nature, and therefore more expensive. In some cases, the inclusions can actually enhance beauty and value such as Kashmir sapphires.

Click here to see the clarity grading system used at Vivicgems, Inc.


A well-cut colored gem exhibits the gemís inherent beauty to the greatest extent possible. In other words, the function of the cut is to display even color, a minimal number of inclusions, good brilliance and at the same time to retain the maximum weight. Cut refers to five factors:

  1. Shape - This describes the girdle outline of the gem, i.e. round, oval, cushion, emerald, etc.

  1. Cutting style - Shape and cutting style are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are not the same. Cutting style refers the facet pattern. For instance, step cut, brilliant and mixed cut (brilliant crown/step pavilion).
  2. Proportions - The angles of the gemstone facets are what causes light to reflect through the stone in a quality known as "Fire". Most gemstones are cut in a compromising way, so as to retain as much weight as possible from the rough crystal, yet achieve maximum brilliance. Here are some cutting proportions that affect spakles:



Schematic of Ideal Cut


  1. Symmetry - Fine cut stone should show a great detail of symmetrical outline of gemstone. Details that need to be considered are:
    bulletAsymmetrical girdle outline
    bulletOff-center culet or keel line
    bulletOff-center table facet
    bulletOverly thick/thin girdle
    bulletPoor crown/pavilion alignment
    bulletTable not parallel to girdle plane

Carat weight:

Weight in gems is calculated in metric carats. One Carat is the equivalent of 0.20 Grams. The weight can be further divided into 100 smaller units known as Points. Generally, as a gemís weight increases, so does the per-carat price. For instance, a 3 Carat Ruby is always worth far more than three 1 Carat Rubies of the same quality, because large gems are rare, thus expensive.

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Last modified: 06/11/13