Thoughts about Gemstones

Everyone is interested in Many stones are now offered at
seemingly outstanding prices on television or at gemshows. What
makes a gemstone? The four C’s. Of them clarity and color come
first. Secondly would be carat weight. Followed by cut. All of
these must be present to make a gemstone. Gemstones are valueable.
Most stones offered for sale to the public are not They
are the low grade stones that do not have a ready saleable value or
are too small to spend a lot of time making a gemstone.

Gemstones are not inexpensive. A good stone will command value at
resale. A poor stone will not. Appraisals and identifications mean
nothing if the agency making the identification will not stand behind
it in a court of law. Gemstones are valueable and must adhere to the
four C’s to have value.

Gerry Galarneau, Galarneau’s Gems

 What makes a gemstone?  The four C's.  Of them clarity and color
come first.  Secondly would be carat weight.  Followed by cut. 

I beg to differ. In a GEM stone, cut comes first. I have seen
glorious color and clarity turned into bland glitter by slovenly
cutting - and just so-so material turned etherial by a genius at the

I once bought a native-cut amethyst - sloppy crown, big “belly,” cut
for weight, not for ideal - from a very good stone merchant because I
saw something in the heart of the stone that I thought a good cutter
could bring out. I was right. The stone went from 6.8 ct. down to 5.5
ct. but it went from bland purple to a knock -your -eyes-out
Siberian blazer. When the stone-seller stopped by the next time, I
showed him the re-worked amethyst. He asked where I had bought such a
gorgeous amethyst and loudly denied it when I told him he’d sold it
to me, saying,“I’d certainly remember selling that stone.” When I
told him the rest of the story, he offered to re-purchase it - at a
nice profit for me - but I had other plans for it. It is my wife’s
birthstone, after all, and it looks lovely nestled in the hollow of
her throat.

A rather long and involved way to say that cutting is uisually
undervalued - it can make good material look great and great
material look fantastic, or it can turn fantastic material into junk
fit only to pave your driveway. Choose your cutter carefully . It
makes all the difference in the world.


As a person who doesn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on gems, I
do watch a show called America Collectibles Network. I do know, and
they even admit many of their stones are not high quality. They do
carry some very excellent stones for very high prices. But I have
received stones and some jewelry that has been independently
appraised for at least three to five times the face value I paid for
the stones on this show. I would not buy them from GVC or ValueVision.
They have very expensive “gems” for too much money. But, if you are
careful, and selective, you can get some incredible deals on this
specific show. So, although I agree with you, in principle, I would
never have been able to purchase a fine .50ct emerald stone, wonderful
clarity and excellent color, for $80.00. This stone is worth at least
700.00. If one is just learning, or need inexpensive, yet nice real
stones, this show is quite amazing. The show also gives you a 30 day
return policy so you can have the stone appraised, and if you dislike
it, or for any other reason, you can return the stone, or jewelry.

Miki Casalino

I beg to differ. In a GEM stone, cut comes first.  

Sounds like clarity, with color running a very close second, was the
determining factor of your story. Without the clarity I doubt you
would have been so interested in the stone. The cut doesn’t make
that much difference with a heavily included stone - sow’s ear Vs
silk purse thing. Certainly cut plays a very important part in
pulling everything together and showing it all to its best advantage,

The argument over which is most important will never be solved since
everything must be taken into consideration as a whole.

When talking diamonds, one of the first things asked is the size
(carat weight), then second is clarity. If the color isn’t
attractive, the stone will not very likely appeal to as many
customers, affecting value. The last is the cut, although it does
enter into the equation, since it can be corrected.

When talking colored stones, everything changes a bit. Color becomes
very important as well as clarity. The carat weight is a final
determining factor affecting price. The cut ties it all together.

Then again, what’s really important depends on whether you’re buying
or selling.

Still, cut does play a very important part. Afterall, a rough
diamond, or any other colored stone, just looks like a rock until a
skilled cutter gets through with it.

Just my two cents’ worth. Curious, if someone offers me a penny for
my thoughts and I give that person my 2 cents’ worth, where does the
change go? Reminds me of that Superman movie with Richard Pryor.
But I digress.

I would like to mention my favorite gem. This gem is almost never cut
and has almost no clarity. Yet it is still considered a gem. Why of
course it is the ultimate of gemstones the pearl. Pearls are the only
gemstones that actually come from within a living animal. They are
still the most feminine of all the Now they come in such
wonderful colors, peach, pink, yellow, gold, avacado, grey, eggplant,
black and white.

Etienne Perret
Designing With Colored Pearls
< >
20 Main St
Camden, Maine
USA 04843

All, As a cutter I love anyone who puts cut above color, clarity and
carat weight. Unfortunately that is not the case when you are
talking about gemstones and their value. The cut on a stone may
enhance the beauty and draw one to the piece. Value in the stone is
still determined by the color, clarity, and carat weight. Cutting
stones is how I make my living. The cut is what makes the stone
lively and attractive. But, value is still determined by the color,
clarity, and carat weight. If you do not believe me take a well cut
piece of weak amethyst to an appraiser. Then take a poorly cut piece
of natural Siberian amethyst to the appraiser and find out which has
the most value.

Gerry Galarneau, Galarneau’s Gems

When talking diamonds, one of the first things asked is the size
(carat weight), then second is clarity. If the color isn’t
attractive, the stone will not very likely appeal to as many
customers, affecting value. The last is the cut, although it does
enter into the equation, since it can be corrected.

It may be somewhat of a regional preference, but weight is one of the
last things that comes into discussion in my area. Most of my
customers are looking for the best value for their money. I tell them
that the way to do that is to get the better cut stones. For those on
a tight budget, I point out that eye visble inclusions in an I1 stone
can be totaly lost in the brilliance of a well cut stone. Even my
distributors know to not bother sending me stones that are not well
cut, or they will be getting them back. Cut is important enough to me
that I will spend hours with a new diamond distributor, to be sure
that they know what I look for in cut before I deal with them. Even
those customers that listen intently to every word about the 4-C’s and
shop around for months for their diamond will still find one stone
that they just fall in love with. Guess what caught their eye…cut.

Just my 2 cents worth. As you say, this debate can go on forever.

Sharon Z.

Pearls are the only gemstones that actually come from within a
living animal. 

What about coral? Or is that considered “precious stone”?


    What about coral?  Or is that considered "precious stone"? 

Precedence: bulk

Coral is the exoskeleton of a living animal, so while it is produced
by a living animal (Or actually a colony of animals ) it doesn’t
qualify for Etienne’s distinction of “coming from within” a living
animal - Love them picky little distinctions!


 If you do not believe me take a well cut piece of weak amethyst to
an appraiser.  Then take a poorly cut piece of natural Siberian
amethyst to the appraiser and find out which has the most value. 

Aaahhh, but, Gerry, take that same peice of Siberian to a good, nay,
a great cutter and see what the appraiser will say about the
difference. My point was not that a cutter can turn sow’s ears into
silk, but that a good cutter can turn silk into fine art where a
mediocre cutter can turn silk into garbage.

Gerry, I agree with you that cut is an undervalued quality in the gem
market. I believe that the answer lies in cutting all stones
properly. Imagine how much more your hypothetical Siberian would be
worth (and how much easier it would be to sell) if -it- were also
properly cut! When enough custom cutters demonstrate this fact to
enough retailers, the change we desire will happen in the high-end
market. It will never happen in the mall stores…and I think we’ll
just have to live with that. -Peter-

It looks like the definition of a gemstone is open for
interpretation. Certainly there are materials considered as gem stones
that do not follow the strict definition for “minerals” (naturally
occurring,inorganic,specific chemistry and crystal structure.) Some
gems are organic, without crystal structure, man made, and composed of
more than one type of crystal. The three factors that determine a
stone’s value are 1. Beauty 2. Durability and 3. Rarity.

The four C’s are generally used as standards in the diamond trade to
establish a wholesale value for a cut diamond. The terms often spin
off to the colored stone market and helps to set values on materials
other than diamond. But then how do you measure opaque gems for
clarity; onyx for color; freeforms for cut (some uncut gemstones are
used in jewelry. Uncut Gemstone!? Tourmaline, garnet, pearl,
coral,…); and a Maori jade coin for caret weight? Or more
importantly, how do you convince a customer that prefers a light color
sapphire over a darker gem that the darker stone has a greater value?
Or does it in this case? Will Estavillo

All, The reason I originally posted these thoughts was to spur thought
about value? Why is something valuable? What determines the value?
Right down to the base question. Poorly colored, fractured,
discolored material, or non-jewelry stones mounted into jewelry is
not valuable. It does not matter how it is cut. We can cut it,
place it in fabulous metal work, it does not matter. It may look
beautiful, but it is not valuable. The quality of the raw material
determines the value. From the raw material we can work our marvels
into lasting pleasures by manipulating the rough into all kinds of
forms. The rough can be gem crystal, massive rock, or organic. The
raw material still determines the ultimate value. Keep this in mind
when you look at either finished stones or jewelry. Think about it
when you pay a large price for a total weight jewelry piece. What
determines the value?

Gerry Galarneau, Galarneau’s Gems

Value can also come from the person who designed and made a piece or
from who owned a particular piece. The intrinsic value of metal and
stones can pale in comparason.

Steven Brixner - Jewelry Designer - San Diego CA USA

Dear Gary Sorry to disagree with you but what ultimately determines
value is what someone is willing to pay for it. What the person or
persons who made the item believe it to be worth has little or no
bearing on that value other then to try and establish a price (that
is often but not always based on costs of production including raw
materials ) { beanie babies leap to mind as price without commensurate
C.O.P. } Anyway the basic question everyone asks in every transaction
is “do I want the item more then what I have to trade to get it
”…If yes then the sale is made, if no then it is not. Sorry to run
on so much but economic philosophy is a hobby of mine. Ron

Hello Group,

I have recently finished a horrible cutting job that is pertinent to
this thread. I have a customer that shares the belief of many that
cutting plays a vital part of the beauty and consequent value of a
gem…ok a diamond.

He commissioned me to cut 4 x 6mm CZ SRB’s with accentuated common
faceting problems. Too Deep, Too Shallow, Skewed/offset and
Asymmetrically overcut. These stones he will use to demonstrate to his
customers how to recognise good cutting and the desirability of
purchasing his excellent make diamond merchandise.

My fear is that other Jewellers might too have the same brilliant
idea and inflict this loathsome humiliating task on unsuspecting
cutters that have laboriously earned their justifiable pride by
critically avoiding just these…problems.

In an effort to dissuade any of you so tempted I have provided a
picture of the finished pieces which I trust will provide you with
sufficient ammunition in your battle against cutting ignorance without
having to resort to the real thing. Please feel free to grab the
picture (right click and save image) or the page if you wish. DON’T
link to it as it won’t be around long. Please DON’T give me credit
even if you copy and use the entire page, neither for the writing nor
the cutting. I’d like to avoid being known as the ‘horribly bad
cutting examples’ guy.

To be a Mechanic one works with ones hands.
To be a Craftsman one works with ones hands and ones head.
To be an Artist one works with ones hands, ones head and ones heart.

Dear Ron:

I think that there is a distinction between intrinsic value and
purely subjective value. Intrinsic qualities of a stone such as
rarity, clarity, color, cut and carat are properties of the stone
itself. The intrinsic qualities of a stone (cut excepted) were
millenia in the making, and will remain when we ourselves are planted
in the dirt. When we talk about value strictly as the price the
public will pay for an item, we are talking to a great degree about
value created by marketing strategy. The ethical role of jewelers
and lapidaries is to educate the public as to what is intrinsically
valuable – what constitutes a high quality stone, and what
constitutes good workmanship. If people were educated about these
issues, they would be willing to pay more for high quality stones and
high quality work. Sadly, the disseminated to the public
by the jewelry community is often either less than forthcoming or
deliberately misleading – aimed specifically at peddling low quality
goods at inflated prices. As long as these practices are tolerated,
those who seek to sell quality jewelry at a fair price will suffer.

Anyway, my 2cents worth.
Lee Einer

But, your highly refined sensibilities not withstanding, Anthony, you
know it takes a real artist (real craftsman?? —see that thread) to
manipulate the medium that way. It’s like a musician purposely
playing out of tune or Victor Borge purposely making those exact,
funny mistakes. It really takes a lot of skill to do it just so.
Now I could have given him all the examples he wanted from my best
work . . . . .


Dear Lee I agree to all of the above BUT that still does not change th
fact that all value is subjective to the person doing the valuing and
ofetn times the situation they find themselves in as well …for ( an
extreme ) example if you were stuck on an island what would you want
more a 3 carat flawless pigeon blood ruby or a hamburger? And while
it is true that hype and advertiseing plays a role in " educating "
the public, good is available if someone wants to learn
and that will change their opinion on what is valuable and what is
trash Ron PS. thanks for the reply this has been a good thread