How do you know a good supplier when you see one?
Common deceptions include things like non-disclosure of imitation, synthetic and treated gemstones. It’s easy to be misled if you’re not dealing with a reputable trader.
Take particular care if you’re buying on-line, especially from overseas!
Take extreme care buying online
Be very wary of buying in marketplaces like online auction sites and pay special attention to the point of origin.
In Australia your purchases are protected by the Department of Fair Trade and you have recourse if something isn’t right.
Purchase off-shore and you may not have the same protections available to you.
Qualifications and industry certifications to look for
Keep an eye out for the following if you do decide to purchase off-shore or online:
Gemmological qualifications, usually indicated by letters such as
- GG: Graduate Gemologist. Awarded by the Gemological Institute of America
- FGA: Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain
- AG (CIG): Accredited Gemmologist. Awarded by the Canadian Institute of Gemmology
- FCGmA: Fellow of the Canadian Gemmological Association
- FGG: Fellow of the German Gemmological Association
In Australia, look for the letters FGAA (Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Australia).
Appraiser credentials such as:
- AA-CJI: Accredited Appraiser of the Canadian Jewellers Institute.
- AM: Accredited Member of the American Society of Appraisers.
- ASA: Accredited Senior Appraiser of ASA ( the American Society of Appraisers).
- CAPP: Certified Appraiser of Personal Property.
- CGA: Certified Gemologist Appraiser.
- CMA: Certified Master Appraiser.
- CSM: Certified Senior Member of the (NAJA).
- MGA: Master Gemologist Appraiser.
- ISA: International Society of Appraisers Accredited Member.
If you can’t find evidence of any of the above qualifications or certifications, we’d recommend finding another supplier.
Once you’ve done your homework and are happy with the supplier you’ve found, here are all the things to consider when choosing a gemstone.
As it is with diamonds, the clarity of a gemstone is affected by flaws and inclusions.
But, unlike diamonds, in some gemstones certain types of inclusions can actually be very desireable.
Expect to see flaws and inclusions
Flaws (or ‘feathers’) are generally more common in coloured gemstones than they are in diamonds.
As long as they aren’t in a vulnerable spot that will weaken the stone then it isn’t something most people worry about.
As for inclusions, their aesthetic importance varies with the tone of the gemstone. The darker the gemstone, the less visible inclusions are.
Inclusions are more visible in light, almost transparent gemstones.
Beware ‘flawless’ gemstones
Be warned! Flawless gemstones are rare and expensive. So if you do encounter a ‘flawless’ gemstone, view it with suspicion. It could be an imitation or a synthetic.
The only way to be certain is to have it tested by a professional gemmologist.
Inclusions can be desirable
Finally, the presence of inclusions can, in some instances, be desirable.
Gemmologists often use the type of inclusion to accurately identify a gemstone.
Certain inclusions will confirm a gemstone’s rarity (or not).
Two gemstones may look the same to the untrained eye, but one could be much more valuable than the other because of its origin.
4. Carat (weight)
Between different types of gemstones, carat weight is not an indicator of relative size.
In other words, carat weight is only useful as a size indicator when comparing the same type of gem.
Specific gravity varies by gem type
Different gem materials have different densities (specific gravity).
As a result, whilst you may have two gems of exactly the same physical dimensions but of different types – say, garnet and sapphire – they will have different carat weights.
This is why gemstones are most often described by their physical dimensions rather than by their weight.
Bigger does not always mean more valuable
Sure, when it comes to gems like emeralds, rubies, sapphires, alexandrite and the like, larger stones attract higher prices by weight.
But other gemstones – particularly those from the quartz family – are readily available in sizes over 10 carats and do not attract a premium just because they’re big.
Synthetics are not “imitations”
Contrary to popular belief, a synthetic gem material is not an imitation. They’re the real deal, just not created in the same place as their natural counterparts.
What are sythetic gemstones?
Synthetic gemstones refer to laboratory grown gems that have the same physical, optical and chemical properties as their natural counterparts.
Synthetic gemstones that don’t have direct natural counterparts are called ‘imitation’ gemstones. If you’re aware of what you’re purchasing, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing synthetic material.
To learn more about synthetic gems and diamonds, visit our section on lab-grown gemstones.
Note: For those of you who prefer not to buy mined gemstones or diamonds, we can offer you a variety of synthetic alternatives.
Want to start designing the perfect ring?
If you’d like to start designing the perfect ring for your partner (or yourself), send us a quick email (preferred) or call us on 07 3379 2596 to have friendly chat about your options.