They are mentioned in the bible and other ancient scriptures, they have been used for ornamentation and for medical and energetic treatments (often still used in this manner), they are use in industry and technological advancements and mostly regarded as beautiful and unique.
It is possible however, to easily determine that there is a lot of mystery for people that ask to purchase gems.
This article will try to provide you with primary background and important tips for the field.
Important to know!
The vast majority of gems in the jewelry field are enhanced.
Gems accreditation is a relatively undeveloped field and you must be careful while purchasing expensive items.
The color is the most important aspect while choosing a gem and should treated with great significance.
With expensive jewelry, it is best to focus on gems with hardness that is sufficient to be preserved over long time.
How does a crystal or a stone defined as a gem?
This is a relative broad definition and it combines retail and gemology.
Gems are stones or crystals that have been polished with the goal of discovering and emphasizing their color, shine, sparkle or their beauty and /or where inlayed into jewelry or other fashion items.
There is a great importance to the hardness level of gems and they are measured in Mohs scale.
This scale is a scale that examines the hardness of minerals.
For more prestige jewelry it is preferred to use gems with higher hardness that will last for longer period.
Cheaper jewelry tends to have softer and cheaper gems or synthetic gems.
There are obviously some exceptions to the rule, for example the resin or pearls which are organic.
Therefore, we can notice that the definition of gems is more commercial and refers to the use of the stone than it`s origin.
So how gems can be divided?
The first group of gems is the precious gems.
Basically, this group contains the diamond, Sapphire, Rubi and the Emerald.
As known the diamond is the hardest mineral in nature (it`s Mohs score is 10), the Sapphire and the Rubi are second to it in hardness (9 on Mohs scale) and the last in the group is Emerald (which is usually around 7.5-8 in Mohs scale).
These are, for the most part, the gems that would be inlayed in the most impressive and expensive prestigious jewelry even tough there are other gems that have a great regional importance like the jade in China for example (that is considered as the stone of the emperor and is full of history in the Chinese culture).
The second group is the semi-precious gems.
In this group there are some very expensive and rare stones as high quality turquoise, etc, but by definition they are still traded as a semi-precious gem.
This group has gems with non-mineral origin like for example resin and pearls and even some fossils.
The hardest stones and stones with the highest quality from this group would also be used in expensive jewelry.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to choose gems with hardness level higher than 7 for large scale money investment or to take it under consideration and choose a model that will allow future replacement of the gem.
A good example for this is Tanzanite – a beautiful and unique stone but crumbly and hard for inlay – the risk for it to breakdown is relatively high.
Another group of gems have been getting more and more attention in recent years, is the synthetic gems.
We are not talking about plastic or glass replacements but gems and crystals that are produced in lab conditions.
Among them there are stones with high quality color, clarity and hardness. This could be a good choice for someone with a budget limitation or for someone who is looking for colors that are hard to find, etc.
One of the biggest challenges for private customers that are purchasing expansive gems in financial terms or gems inlayed inside jewelry is the gemological accreditation.
Nowadays, for example, huge amounts of gems undergo some treatments in order to improve their color and sometimes even their clarity.
There isn’t any principle problem with that fact as long as it represented in the price tag.
In this context, most of the gems are not accredited in a gemological lab and therefore you can easily buy a pig in a poke.
You can manage this in one of two ways – if you are buying an expensive rock that justify accreditation ask for it to be sent for a gemological accreditation that will insure its quality nature.
If you are buying a stone that doesn’t justify external accreditation, ask directly if it is natural and also ask for this detail to be specified in the purchase documents.
In case your doubts are increasing you can approach a suitable gemologist for evaluation.
In any case, make sure to purchase in reliable places.
Obviously, this paragraph doesn’t concern cheap fashion jewelry where very little gems are natural if any.
How to choose a gem?
The most important thing about gems is their color.
The clarity is secondary and as long it isn’t really rough it is considered as part of the stone`s natural beauty.
It is important to choose stones with deep and clear color.
Uniform color, shine and life-like.
Mainly – color you can relate to personally.
In these cases, it is recommended to evaluate several stones side by side if possible.
It is also possible to go for some unique phenomena like asterism – start shape that might appear during cabochon polish (smoothening of a gem) or colored areas – a stone with several colors (at least two)
Interesting facts about gemstones
Diamonds – the hardest mineral in nature (with 10 in Mohs scale for mineral hardness).
Mohs – an ancient scale and still accepted today for measuring hardness of minerals by notching them with other minerals.
Sapphire – the most popular precious-gem worldwide apart for diamonds.