Buying Gemstone Jewelry: How to Find Your Perfect Treasure

Buying Gemstone Jewelry: How to Find Your Perfect Treasure

With the proliferation of many wonderful and beautifully hued gemstones on the market, how does one go about finding the perfect piece that captures their heart?

First, and most importantly, think about what qualities you are most drawn to in a piece of jewelry. Identifying the kind of qualities you are looking for in your gemstone jewelry will help you determine the best qualities to look for in a stone. Are you aiming to find that bold, splashy cocktail ring? Or are you looking to find something more understated for everyday wear? Would you rather have a jaw dropping large stone but don’t have the budget for one with amazing color or clarity? These are all great questions to start with, as answers to these will impact the style, size, quality and, most importantly, cost of the piece of jewelry you are looking to purchase.

Gemstones come in two main categories, precious and semi precious. Precious gemstones include all the traditional and most popular gemstones such as Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire.  Semi-precious gemstones include every other gemstone other than those in the precious category. While they are labeled as semi-precious, this is no indication of their value or rarity as many semi-precious stones can be just as rare, if not more rare than a diamond or a ruby.

When you determine what it is you are drawn to in a gemstone, you can then start to look at what is known as the 4 C’s. The four C’s stand for the Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat of a gemstone.  These qualities are what help to determine the value or rarity of a gemstone. 


While personal preference plays a large part in selecting a gemstone, typically vivid hues and medium tones make for the most sought after gemstones.  Saturation of color in a gemstone will also factor into its value.  A gemstone with excellent saturation will have even pure color throughout the stone without any bands of brown or grey.  Gemstones that have pure primary colors are the most valuable while ones that are pale or very dark are less valuable. Artists we carry such as Irene Neuwirth, Gurhan, Barbara Heinrich and Alex Sepkus are renowned for their exquisite colored gemstones they select to highlight in their designs.


Cut refers to the faceting applied to the surface of a raw stone.  It is important to not confuse cut with shape however. Cut is specifically the facets that are applied to a gemstone, while shape refers to the overall shape of the stone, ie, heart, pear, emerald, round.

Look to the cut if you want to get the most sparkle out of your gemstone. Cut is an important factor in determining the sparkle of a gemstone because a well cut stone will allow more light to reflect off the lower facets and back out the top of a gemstone giving it the appearance of greater sparkle.  Cuts for a gemstone include:

BrilliantThis is your typical diamond faceting style. Facets are applied to both the top and underside of the stone. Clean, well cut stones will offer the most optimal sparkle.

Beverley K classic designs set with brilliant diamonds.

Step Cut-  Found mostly in square, baguettes, emerald shape, and Ascher shape gemstones.  This type of cutting looks primarily like rectangular or square facets applied to the stone’s surface.

ILA 14kt gold necklace with .60ctw step cut emerald.

Rose- This style cutting is similar to brilliant, however the stone will have a flat back and all light will be reflected off the triangular facets which are cut over the dome of the stone.  While making a comeback in modern jewelry, Rose cutting is more commonly seen in vintage or turn of the century jewelry.

Irene Neuwirth’s rose cut Moonstone with .22tcw white diamonds

Cabochon- Cabochon is the word we use to describe a stone cut that has a dome type top without any facets applied to the stone.  Cabochons can be found in all shapes of gemstones and create a more subdued nature to a piece of jewelry. While they often possess phenomenal color, their sparkle factor is much lower due a cabochon not having facets. Looking for a more understated, everyday wearable gemstone? Check out the cabochons in our designer collections by GurhanARA Collection, and Tresor.

Gurhan 24kt gold link bracelet with opal, aquamarine, blue and white moonstone stones.

Fantasy- Relatively new to the traditional world of gem cutting, fantasy cuts were pioneered by Bernd Munsteiner. Munsteiner created this style of faceting to bring out the inherent beauty of the material being cut, irrespective of carat weight.  Peter Schmidt of Atelier Zobel is the big stand out in our collection utilizing fantasy cuts to create amazing one-of-a-kind pieces. Looking for a piece unmatched by any other? Check out his collection here.

22 + 18 k gold  and tourmaline Munsteiner-cut 6,06 ct, diamond brilliant-cut tlb SI1 0,92 ct

Uncut- While this is not an actual category of cutting we thought it was important to include here, as many designers are now using stones in their untouched or “raw” state.  Jewelry designer, Todd Reed, is a great example of that.  Todd found that one of the most exciting aspects of diamonds in particular, was that they are discovered right out of the earth with an intrinsic beauty all their own.  These stones are the pure diamond crystal formation that comes from the earth without any additional cutting.  Todd has been a pioneer in using “raw” stones and his work is highly collected for just that reason. 

Todd Reed’s natural octahedron diamond ring in 18K with brilliant diamonds.


Gemstones are sold by weight and not size.  When comparing gemstones it is important to keep this in mind when comparing two different mineral specimens.  This is because each mineral has its own density.  Therefore, a 1ct Emerald will weigh the same as a 1ct Ruby however the Ruby will be smaller because ruby has a higher density. 


Start by utilizing these aspects to gem buying on the hunt for your next piece of gemstone jewelry.  Still have questions or are not sure where to begin? Stop in to one of our two stores to try on some of these amazing pieces in our collection or give us a call.  Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to walk with you through the process of finding your very own gemstone treasure!

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