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Colored gemstones are generally cut to maximize the beauty of their color. To recognize quality in the cut of a gemstone, there are several points to consider.
What To Look For
A good cut showcases the gemstone's color, diminishes its inclusions, and exhibits good overall symmetry and proportion. Because gemstone color can vary, there are no hard geometrical standards when it comes to maximizing brilliance or color. Gemstones, especially rarer ones, are sometimes cut for size without regard for their color. For example, when corundum varieties such as sapphire and ruby are cut for maximum weight rather than beauty, they may display banded colors or streaks. Karat Square sells only the finest quality, hand-selected colored gemstones.
In a gemstone with more saturated color, the best cut may be more shallow than average, permitting more light to penetrate the gemstone, while in a less saturated gem, the color may benefit from a deeper cut.
Look at the gemstone in the setting and ensure that all the facets are symmetrical. An asymmetrically-cut crown indicates a gemstone of low-quality. In all cases, a well-cut gemstone is symmetrical and reflects light evenly across the surface, and the polish is smooth, without any nicks or scratches. These are the characteristics that Karat Square jewelers look for when selecting our gemstone jewelry.
Like diamonds, fine quality color gems usually have a table, crown, girdle, pavilion, and culet. Iridescent opals are one exception, and most often have a rounded cabochon cut.
The beautiful color of a gemstone is its most defining characteristic, and many jewelers consider it to be the most important evaluation criterion. When deciding upon gemstone color, examine hue, tone, and saturation.
The most valuable gemstones are those that exhibit a pure color and only "slight" hues of other colors in addition to their primary color, as all Karat Square gemstones do. For example, Karat Square sapphires range in hue from "slightly purplish-blue" to "slightly greenish-blue," pink sapphires always range from "pink" to "slightly purplish-pink," and rubies range from "slightly orangish-red" to "slightly purplish-red". With the exception of opals, variation in a gemstone's hue will be called out in the gemstone details on the product detail page.
Tone represents the depth of color, ranging from colorless to black. Gemstone tone is described as "light," "medium-light," "medium," "medium-dark," and "dark." Karat Square offers gemstones with the most sought-after tones that fall within the medium-light to medium-dark range. For all of our gemstone jewelry, you'll find any tone variations are called out in the gemstone details.
Saturation, or color purity, refers to the degree to which the gem is free from brown or gray hues. The most desirable gemstones, which show little gray or brown, are often described as having "vivid" or "strong" color saturation. Generally, the levels of color saturation will not be called out in the product details because the gemstones in our jewelry are hand-selected for their vivid colors.
Because gemstones form under unique circumstances, each individual gemstone is comprised of a combination of trace minerals, which create a unique set of identifying marks or inclusions. Inclusions will not necessarily detract from the beauty or desirability of a colored gemstone.
What To Look For
When considering a colored gemstone's clarity, you should measure your expectations against the standard for that variety of gemstone. Some varieties of colored gemstones, such as aquamarine, blue topaz, and citrine, have naturally fewer inclusions while other gemstones, such as emerald and ruby, tend to have a higher rate of acceptable inclusions.
Clarity is an important factor in comparing quality colored gemstones. Even opaque opals can have milky inclusions that will affect their iridescence and color play. In general, the best values are available in gemstones that are moderately included. Exceptional gemstones with few or no inclusions are available, but they can command extravagant prices.
The carat weight of a gemstone does not necessarily allow you to accurately envision the size of the gemstone. Different gemstones have different densities (mass per unit volume), so two gems that appear to be the same size may actually have very different weights. For example, a ruby is more dense than a diamond, so a 1-carat ruby will look smaller than a 1-carat diamond.
Always request the dimensions of a gemstone to ensure that the majority of the gemstone weight will be visible when set in the setting.
To help you envision the gemstone's actual appearance, we at Karat Square provide the diameter dimensions (for round) or length and width (for other shapes) of a given gemstone. You can even click the zoom button to see a closer look at any piece of gemstone jewelry.
Karat Square’s Colored Gemstone Enhancement Policy
Karat Square offers consumers only the highest quality, authentic gemstones. Our colored gemstones undergo rigorous internal inspections by our trained gemologists to ensure they meet our stringent quality standards.
Due to their rarity and unique visual properties, nearly all colored gemstones sold at fine jewelers, including Karat Square, are enhanced using various techniques. Many of these techniques have been used for centuries. Colored gemstones that have not been enhanced are very rare and command extravagant prices.
Our white and fancy-color diamonds are not enhanced in any way, other than normal cutting and polishing. Black diamond fashion jewelry contains natural diamonds that have been treated to create the unique black color.
Colored Gemstone Enhancement Processes
There are many methods of enhancing colored gemstones. We describe the most common enhancements below. For more information on colored gemstone enhancements, see the American Gem Trade Association's Gemstone Information Manual.
The application of heat to enhance the color and/or clarity of gemstones has been a common practice around the globe for centuries. It is part of the standard polishing and finishing process for many colored gemstones. As such, it is accepted by the jewelry industry and the American Gem Trade Association. The enhanced color and/or clarity of heat-treated gemstones is permanent.
The filling of a gem material with an oil, wax, glass, resin or other material, colored or colorless, to improve appearance. This process began centuries ago by gemstone merchants who found that immersing emeralds in oil or waxes made them look clearer to the unaided eye. This practice continues today with many colored gemstones.
The use of wax, resin or oil applied to the exterior of a porous colored gemstone to protect the natural substance, and to improve sturdiness and appearance.
The application of chemicals or other elements to lighten or enhance color consistency.
The act of adding coloring agents so that they permeate a colored gemstone to enhance or alter color.
The alteration of a gemstone's color through the use of radiation. This is often followed by a heating process. The enhanced color of irradiated gemstones is permanent.
New And Future Technologies
While gemstones are durable, they require varying levels of care. For example, some gemstones are especially vulnerable to household chemicals and temperature changes. Cleaning gemstones presents special challenges. While many gemstones should be cared for by following our basic care guidelines below, please refer to our Gemstone and Pearl Care and Enhancement Overview to understand the care requirements for your specific stone. If you still have questions, please contact Karat Square customer service.
After removing your gemstone jewelry, clean it by following the directions on a non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Make sure that the jewelry cleaner specifies that it is safe to use with your gemstone. Use a soft cloth to remove any remaining dirt or other residue.
Store your gemstone jewelry in a lined case or a soft cloth, so the gems do not touch each other or parts of other jewelry. Gemstones are harder than gold, silver, or platinum and can scratch the surfaces of your other fine jewelry if they are not kept separate.
While it's true that gemstones such as ruby and sapphire are second only to diamond on the hardness scale, it is not a measurement of their indestructibility. It means that these gemstones are able to resist scratching almost as well as a diamond. Abrasive surfaces, harsh chemicals, and sharp blows can damage even the hardest gem. Your gemstone jewelry should be the last thing you put on when getting dressed and the first thing you take off at the end of the night. Store your gemstones carefully and they will be enjoyed for generations.
Use this guide to find the pearl that is right for you by educating yourself on the quality and value of the cultured pearls that Karat Square offers.
What Is A Cultured Pearl?
Natural pearls are so rare to find in nature that most pearls sold today are cultured. To create a cultured pearl, a tiny bead is implanted into the oyster and gradually over time the oyster coats the bead in many layers of natural minerals and proteins. These layers are referred to as nacre (Nay-Ker.) It is the nacre that gives pearls their beautiful luster and color.
Choosing The Right Pearl
At Karat Square we offer a variety of Freshwater, South Sea, and Tahitian cultured pearls. In addition, we offer two collections of Akoya cultured pearls. Our pearl jewelry is available in a variety of different styles including studs, fashion earrings, strands, necklaces, pendants and bracelets. In addition, we offer our pearls in varying price ranges so that you can find the perfect pearl for your style and budget.
While industry wide there is no standardized grading for pearls, Karat Square ensures that each pearl meets our high quality standards. At Karat Square you will find education related to each pearl type we offer and encourage you to learn more about the differing qualities in each.
The general color of a pearl is also called the body color. Typical pearl colors are white, cream, yellow, pink, silver, or black. A pearl can also have a hint of secondary color, or overtone, which is seen when light reflects off the pearl surface. For example, a pearl strand may appear white, but when examined more closely, a pink overtone may become apparent.
Pearls produce an intense, deep shine called luster. This effect is created when light reflects off the many layers of tiny calcium carbonate crystals that compose the pearl. This substance is called nacre. When selecting a pearl, consider that the larger the pearl, the more nacre it has, so it will also exhibit even more luster. Compare a 5mm Freshwater cultured pearl with a 10mm South Sea cultured pearl and the difference in the amount of nacre is obvious. The difference in luster is as clearly visible as the difference in the pearl sizes.
At Karat Square, we offer the highest quality, rarest pearl shape – round. Shapes that are not spherical or even symmetrical are considered lower quality. Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea pearls found in jewelry have a tendency to be the roundest, while Freshwater pearls can be oval or slightly off-round.
As a mollusk creates a pearl, the layers of nacre do not always adhere smoothly. Sometimes spots and bubbles can appear in the layering process. Pearls with the smoothest surfaces are the highest-quality, most sought-after pearls. At Karat Square, to offer you a range of prices, we offer pearls with a range of surface qualities.
The size of the pearl greatly depends on the type of pearl. Freshwater pearls range in size from about 3.0-7.0mm, Akoya pearls range from about 6.0-8.5mm, and South Sea and Tahitian pearls can reach sizes as large as 13mm.
When cared for properly, pearls can last a lifetime. The best way to care for pearls is to wear them often as the body's natural oils keep pearls lustrous. However, it's important to keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray. Chemicals found in these common products can dull the luster of your pearls. It is recommended that you put your pearls on last when getting ready and make them the first thing you take off when you come home. Before putting your pearls away, wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separate from other jewelry to avoid scratching their tender surfaces.
Our round Freshwater cultured pearls make an excellent, affordable gift of good quality pearls.
As opposed to rice-shaped Freshwater pearls, these pearls are mostly round, and look very similar to Akoya pearls when worn, but are available for a much lower price.
Most Freshwater pearls come from China, and are the product of an elaborate process in which a single resilient mussel can be harvested many times, yielding several pearls at a time. To provide these pearls at an exceptional value, we offer them with good levels of quality, and set with 14k gold posts and clasps.
The Freshwater pearl looks remarkably similar to the Akoya pearl, but Freshwater pearls are available for almost 1/5 the price of Akoya pearls. The only tradeoff is that Freshwater pearls are generally smaller, less symmetrical, and not as well matched when strung on a strand. But if you're looking for pearls at an outstanding value, Freshwater pearls are the perfect gift.
Colored Freshwater Cultured Pearls
Freshwater cultured pearls can be created in a spectrum of colors. Many popular Colors - white, pink, orange, and other pastels - can be achieved through natural means, including the pearl mollusk's genetics, what they eat, and the amount and type of trace metals in the cultivating environment.
It is a widely-accepted practice to treat or irradiate Freshwater pearls in order to achieve a particular or unusual color, and equally common to treat Freshwater pearls to create a more evenly-colored strand. Pearl colors should always be chosen to complement the wearer's complexion and wardrobe preferences.
From a value standpoint, when selecting colored pearls it is important to understand if the color is natural or the result of some post-harvesting treatment. For example, Tahitian pearls, cultivated in black lipped oysters, are the only naturally occurring charcoal to black pearls. It should be made clear to you that other pearls exhibiting these colors have been treated, and that fact reflected in a lower cost.