Know Everything About How to Identify Natural Gemstones

The aesthetic appeal, magic and mystery have lured mankind since ages. Different cultures across the world have lore and beliefs associated to colored gemstones. In this day and age, natural gemstones are more of a fashion accessory, though the mystical symbolism remains.

What are natural gemstones

A gemstone is defined as a mineral or petrified material that when cut and polished, can be used in jewelry. It is a mineral that is valuable, rare and often beautiful.

Minerals were forged beneath the surface of the earth over millions of years through the forces of heat and pressure, resulting in a distinct crystal form with an orderly pattern of atoms. This internal arrangement determines a mineral’s chemical and physical properties, including its color. Crystals are not necessarily formed only in rocks or beneath the surface of the earth; they are also formed within plants and animals. Such gemstones are called Organic gemstones (coral, amber etc.). Every mineral originates as a small crystal and “grows” as more atoms are added. A particular gem or mineral can be a variety of different colors, depending on impurities, also known as inclusions, in its atomic structure. Quartz, for example, is normally colorless, but occurs in a range of colors from pink to brown to the deep purple of amethyst, depending on the amount and type of impurities in its structure.

Gemstones are precious because the extreme climatic conditions and the nurturing inside earth’s womb for millions of years, are not just rare conditions but almost impossible to occur again. And this is the reason that the importance of gemstones is much beyond the obvious aesthetic appeal.

Of almost 4,000 different types of minerals found on earth, fewer than 100 are considered beauteous or durable enough to be used as gemstones. Of those, only around 20 are commonly used in jewelry. The traditionally included category of most valuable gemstones is emerald, ruby, sapphire and pearl. Because of their aesthetic appeal and glorious history, these gemstones are more valuable than other colored gemstones. Finest quality emeralds and rubies can sometimes be more valuable than diamonds of comparable size.

Gemstones are classified into different varieties, species and groups. For instance, ruby (gemstone) is the red variety of the species corundum (mineral) that belongs to the hematite (crystal) group. Varieties of the mineral beryl include emerald (green), aquamarine (blue), heliodor (yellow), bixbite (red), goshenite (colorless) and morganite (pink).

Gemstone treatments or enhancements refer to the way some gems are treated to improve their aesthetic appeal or durability, or even change their color. Almost all gemstones are treated in some or the other way. Most of these treatments are permanent in nature and an accepted norm in the industry. Treatments do not affect a gemstone’s value.

Seeking quality

Akin diamonds, gemstones are judged by the "Four Cs" of color, clarity, cut and carat weight, with color being the most important consideration, by far. As a general rule for all gemstones, the better the color, the higher the value; better clarity and better cut are also valued more - and generally, the larger the stone, the more it will cost per carat. Even to an untrained novice eye, many of these types of differences can be seen when similar stones are examined side-by-side.

Other factors that may influence the price of a gemstone include whether it is available readily or is rare in existence; whether it is a rare fancy shape or a calibrated size; and sometimes the origin of the gem. For instance, sapphires from Kashmir or rubies from Burma command a higher price than their equivalents from other origins.