Basic Gemstone Facts
To find gemstones that are both exquisitely beautiful and have transparent, ethical sourcing is difficult. Gemstones are valued based on saturation, hue, depth of tone, cut and inclusions.
Color: Certainly the most important criteria for judging the quality of a gemstone is color purity. Except for the rarest gemstones that demand extraordinary prices, gems will have some minute elements of secondary color.
Tone: Gemstones range from light, medium-light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. Those that are dark or light are generally referred to as “commercial” stones and not that desirable. We personally pick out the best gemstones that represent an excellent value, aiming for those that are in medium, medium-light and medium dark tones.
Saturation: Saturation refers to the degree of color purity. What we look for when choosing a gemstone for you is a “strong” or “vivid” saturation of desired colors, with a minimum of grays and browns.
Enhancements: Many colored gemstones, including sapphires and rubies, are generally heat treated to enhance hue and color. This type of enhancement is permanent and requires no additional care. - Our Sri Lankan sapphires are enhanced.
- Our Sapphires from Malawi are not enhanced and completely natural.
- Our Emeralds from Africa are not enhanced and completely natural.
- Our Rubies from Rubyfair are not enhanced and completely natural.
- Our Rubies from Nyala are not enhanced and completely natural.
- Our Zambian Aquamarines are not enhanced and completely natural.
- Our Mandarin Garnets from Zambia are not enhanced and completely natural.
- Our Zultanite from Turkey are not enhanced and completely natural.
Cut: Gemstones are not cut with the same specifications as diamonds. “Ideal” cuts do not exist. Instead, gemstones are cut to reveal their optimum even color and the fewest possible inclusions. Natural gemstones, except for those which demand exorbitant prices, have slight to moderate inclusions.
Size: Since there is no “ideal” cut in gemstones, it is not always possible to judge a gemstone’s visual size by its caret weight. We give you the diameter of the gem from the top down, as if you were seeing it in one of our pieces.
Clarity: Gemstones generally have some inclusions, as part of their natural make up. Gemstones that are completely flawless demand extraordinary prices. We choose to sell gemstones with only a minimum number of inclusions, representing the best possible value.
Ethical Sourcing: The critical issue is traceability, from the mine, though the polishing, to our shop. We have three different scenarios that qualify, from our view, as ethical sourcing. 1. Companies that adhere to fair trade standards, transparently publishing their policies. 2. Small scale mining cooperatives that mine and cut their own gemstones 3. Individuals that finance the hand mining of community groups, paying premium prices and monitoring the polishing.