Did you know that consumers spent over $25.68 billion on gemstones in 2016?

It merely confirms that the US is the world largest consumer of precious stones. Not yet convinced? Imagine this, in 2013, the US purchased nearly half (35%) of all gemstones produced worldwide.

Clearly, people here love buying gemstones. But there are so many kinds of gemstones out there that it can all be too confusing for a newbie.

This is why it’s crucial to have a clear guideline when searching for gemstones.

Consider the following pointers.

Types of Gemstones

A gemstone is an organic material or mineral mined from the sea or earth and has high-value thanks to its beauty and rarity.

In its simplest form, a gemstone is a dull and asymmetrical stone. It becomes jewelry after serious cutting and polishing. Suppliers get gemstones from various climates and locations worldwide, leading to jewelry with an array of consistencies and colors.

You can categorize all gemstones in the following groups:

Precious and Semi-Precious Gemstones

Each type of gemstone has distinct characteristics and unique mineral makeup. However, some gemstones are more valuable than others because of rarity, purity, accessibility, and even cultural significance.

There are four gemstones that are widely considered precious: rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds. They are difficult to find and it takes a lot of time to create them.

Many of the other gemstones are semi-precious, though they can be just as rare and exquisite as diamonds and rubies. In as much as precious gemstone purchases are commonplace, buying semi-precious stones is more affordable.

Mineral and Organic Gemstones

Organic gemstones typically emanate from animals and plants. They are normally harvested from the sea or land, with some of the most common organic gemstones being:

  • Pearl: Forms inside an oyster as the oyster is protecting itself from irritants such as sand. The oyster builds layer upon layer of matter on the grain of sand until a lustrous pearl appears. Pearls come from both saltwater and freshwater oysters.
  • Amber: This organic stone originates from the resin or fossilized sap of extinct and ancient pine trees. It can be brown, gold, or pink.
  • Coral: It’s an organic gemstone with a skeletal structure created by small ocean animals known as coral polyps.

Mineral gemstones typically occur naturally in the earth. The stones have to get mined and passed through a specific combination of pressure and heat to create hardened crystal structures.

Examples of mineral gemstones include:


A colorless and pure concentration of carbon under immense pressure and heat deep in the earth creates the strongest known mineral. Still, not all diamonds are colorless. There are those that are yellow, brown, and many different shades in between.


They’re simply aluminum oxide transformed by high pressure and heat sustained for thousands of years. You can find this jewelry in colors such as pink and yellow, but blue is the most valuable. The color blue is also unique in that it has meaning in Sade Sati.


An emerald emanates from beryllium aluminum coupled with vanadium, iron, and chromium. The result is a gemstone of blue-green or green color.

Natural Gemstone and Lab-Created Gemstone

The unique chemical and mineral features of any naturally occurring gemstone can get replicated in a lab. The process takes a shorter time than it would naturally, while the products have the same quality, look, and color as the natural ones.

Lab-grown gemstones have several advantages: they are eco-friendly, more affordable, and conflict-free.

How to Buy Gemstone

The price of a gemstone gets determined by its rarity, beauty, durability, and weight.

While choosing gemstones is a process, you can easily determine the value of a gemstone using the four Cs:

1. Color

When investing in gemstones, the color should make the basis of all your decisions.

Take note that one gem variety may have different colors. To break down a color, look at it in terms of saturation, tone, and hue. They are the category criteria that determine a gem’s price and quality.

Medium tones, as well as vivid hues, make the most expensive and sought-after gems.

Below is a list of popular gemstone hues:

  • Pink Quartz: topaz, rose quartz, diamond, tourmaline, ruby
  • Red Hue: carnelian, coral, zircon, garnet, ruby
  • Yellow Hue: diamond, citrine, garnet, peridot, amber,
  • Green Hue: jade, emerald, malachite, zircon, topaz
  • Blue Hue: sapphire, lapis lazuli, turquoise

Some stones may have a combination of colors.

2. Clarity

The clarity of a jewel depends on how clear the stone is, and whether it has any foreign things inside.

Natural gemstones usually have many inclusions because of how they get formed in the earth. These inclusions can be anything from air pockets, dust, insects, liquid, etc.

Typically, the more inclusions a gemstone has, the less valuable it becomes. Nonetheless, marketers override that rule when dealing with rare gems.

3. Cut

This refers to a gem stone’s styling in terms of facets that reflect light.

Faceting is the process in which jewelers geometrically cut multiple flat facets to amplify a gem’s brilliance. These guys use specific types of cuts for each kind of gemstone.

Nonetheless, wherever you buy gemstones, the quality of all jewelry cuts get scaled from excellent to good, fair, poor, and very poor.

4. Carat Rarity and Weight

Jewelers sell gemstones by weight (not size), while the standard measurement is in carats.

Since gemstones emanate from different minerals and sources, they come in varying densities. This means that two gemstones may weigh the same, but will not be of the same size if one is denser than the other.

And there are gems that rarely appear in large sizes. You can, thus, expect to pay more (per carat) for precious stones like garnet, emerald, alexandrite, spinel, and ruby.

Final Thoughts on Buying Gemstones

When buying gemstones, always remember that industry standards don’t always align with personal preferences.

Therefore, go for something that truly speaks to your heart. And don’t end it with worthwhile purchases. Learn the best ways to maintain your gemstones if you want their sparkle to last.

Browse our posts for more jewelry tips!