Gemstone jewelry is more popular than ever, especially as bridal jewelry. Prized for centuries for their beauty, and often used as currency, gemstones hold ageless appeal. Modern treating techniques enhance their look and improve their durability. Whatever your favorites--rubies, sapphires, emeralds or others--find a good jeweler to buy from.
Until diamonds became fashionable in the Victorian era, gemstones were considered the jewelry of choice, not only for their beauty but because they symbolize fidelity, nobility and truth. While diamonds are still the most prized choice, gemstones have become very popular. Why? Jewelry industry insiders say it’s because people just can’t get enough of the color.
Steps to choosing gemstone jewelry
- Work with a jeweler whose character you trust. Since virtually all gemstones are treated, the opportunity for deception is great-- you want to be dealing with someone you can depend on. If something about the experience is off-putting, leave.
- Learn about lab-created and treated stones. Ask jewelers if a naturally mined stone has been treated--heated, bleached, coated or dyed to improve the look or durability. Some treatments can weaken a stone and lower its price.
- Keep your eyes open for imitations, generally made of glass or plastic. Jewelers will tell you what's what.
- Apply the four Cs to buying gemstones just as you would to purchasing diamonds. Gemstones, however, don't carry letter grades for guidance; a trustworthy jeweler will show you how to be discerning.
- Shop around. Numerous companies operate in the field of colored gems, so prices fluctuate far more widely than those of diamonds, and it pays to watch them over time. A one-carat ruby, for instance, can vary enormously in cost--and may be just as expensive as a diamond. And gems over three carats in size leap up in price because they are rare. Color--shade and saturation (whether the color is dull or intense)--also greatly affects price. Clarity is also important (the gem should have few flaws or inclusions), as is a perfect, light-reflecting faceted cut.
- Check the store's return and refund policy before finalizing your purchase.
- Make sure your receipt details all the stone's specifications including its weight and size. Ask for a grading report, and check that the receipt specifies whether the stone is a natural gem, lab-created or treated stone.