Gemstone jewelry looks and feels amazing. But before you start your search for gemstone jewelry, you need to have the right information. The more you know about the cut, clarity, and value of semi-precious and precious stones, the better prepared you will be to find that perfect piece. This is why we have created a comprehensive fine jewelry guide for you!

In this article you will discover:

  • The four essential characteristics of a gemstone
  • Everything you need to know about jewelry metals
  • Styling rules for fine jewelry
  • Cleaning & care tips for fine jewelry

Don’t forget to check out Ana Luisa’s fine jewelry collections if you want to find unique designer jewelry at fair prices.

Gemstone Jewelry – Essential characteristics for gemstones

When buying gemstone jewelry, you need to pay attention to the following properties of the gemstones:

  • Cut
  • Clarity
  • Value
  • Color

If you want to read our comprehensive precious & semi precious stones jewlery buying guide, click this link.

Gemstone jewelry clarity

The gemstones form due to special circumstances and each is composed of a mixture of trace minerals creating a unique set of inclusions (identifying marks). These inclusions may detract from the desirability and beauty of a gemstone. That is why you should know exactly what to look for when trying to decide the gemstone jewelry you want to buy.

To help measure the clarity of precious and semi-precious stones, gemologists created a colored gemstone clarity scale. Due to the large variety of gemstones, the Gemological Institute of America has classified gemstones in:

  • Type 1: includes beryl gemstones like heliodor, aquamarine, morganite, smoky quart, etc.
  • Type 2: includes ametrine, amethyst, andalusite, citrine, sapphire, ruby, etc.
  • Type 3: includes green emerald, tourmaline, multi-color tourmaline, etc.

Diamonds are a special type of gemstone and they have their own clarity grading scale. Jewelers use the GIA International Diamond Grading System to rate the clarity of a diamond from flawless (FL) to Included (I3). Imeans that the diamond has obvious inclusions which may affect its brilliance.

Gemstone Jewelry Cut

To maximize the beauty of a rock, specialists use certain cuts. There is an entire science to gemstone cutting and process itself is very close to an art. The right cut will always maximize the elegance and beauty of a gemstone. It is crucial to know what to look for when buying jewelry.

A good cut will display the gemstone’s true color, diminish its inclusions, exhibit good overall proportion and symmetry. In other words, it will make the gemstone jewelry look elegant. As a rule for gemstones with a more saturated color, the best cut will be shallow to allow more light to enter the gemstone. The gemstones with less saturated color will receive a deeper cut.

Gemstone Jewelry Value

The value of most gemstones depends on their weight (carat). The only exceptions are the gemstone cabochons, gemstone carvings and gemstone beads (that are most of the time sold as an entire piece). But for most semi-precious and precious stones, the price is in relation to their carat basis. Today, one gemstone carat is 0.2 g or 200 mg. Carat is a measure of weight and people often confuse it with “karat” which is a measure of the gold purity.

Gemstone color

Another important factor which can influence the price of gemstone jewelry is the color. The beautiful color of a precious or semi-precious stone is not a defining characteristic. However, many jewelers still consider it to be one of the most important criteria of evaluation. When evaluating a gemstone’s color, you have to examine the saturation, tone, and hue.

  • Saturation (color purity) is the degree to which a semi-precious stone is free from gray or brown hues. The gemstones women love the most are often have a “strong” and “vivid” color saturation. Most of the times, the color saturation levels will not appear in the product details. This happens when the jeweler hand-selected the gemstones for their strong and vivid colors.
  • Tone refers to the depth of color. The tone can range from colorless to black. In addition to this, the tone can be “dark”, “medium-dark”, “medium”, “medium-light” and “light”. Jewelry stores can offer gemstones with all sorts of tones and you can choose the one you like the most.
  • If a stone exhibits a natural pure color and has a few hues of another color, the value of the gemstone will be bigger. For example, sapphires can range in hue from “slightly greenish-blue” to “slightly purplish-blue”. Pink sapphires can range from “slightly purplish-pink” to “pink” and the rubies can range from “slightly purplish-red” to “slightly orangeish-red”.

Different jewelry metals

As you know, when it comes to fine gemstone jewelry, there are a couple of metals you will find. In a nutshell, here are the various jewelry metals. To get more information about jewelry metals, read our comprehensive buying guide.

Gold gemstone jewelry

This type of jewelry can either be yellow, white or rose gold. It all depends on the other metals in the alloy. Since gold is a soft metal, you cannot have gold jewelry that is 100% gold (24k). Jewelers use the karat scale to determine the amount of gold in the alloy:

  • 10k gold jewelry has 41.7% gold
  • 14k gold jewelry has 58.5% gold
  • 18k means that there is 75% gold in your jewelry
  • 22k means an amount of gold of 91.6%
  • 24k is 100% gold, but you can’t find jewelry like this because it would be too fragile.

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Gold plated jewelry 

Gold plated jewelry means that your jewelry piece has a thin layer of gold over another metal or alloy. With gold plating, you can get three types of gold plated jewelry:

  • Gold plated jewelry, which contains under o.o5% gold (of the jewelry total weight)
  • Gold filled jewelry, which has 5% gold (of the jewelry total weight)
  • Vermeil, which is a silver jewelry piece with a thin layer of gold plating

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Silver jewelry

There was a time when people thought silver was more rare than gold. Nowadays we know better, but silver jewelry is still absolutely stunning. Just like gold, silver is a soft metal and you cannot find 100% silver gemstone jewelry. The silver alloys used for jewelry is called sterling silver and it contains 92.5% silver. This is why you will find the hallmark 925 on sterling silver jewelry.

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Platinum jewelry

Platinum is even more rare than gold. It is also harder to work with which is why platinum gemstone jewelry is more expensive than gold ones. This metal has a natural white color and does not tarnish. A platinum jewelry piece must have at least 90% platinum in the alloy. What you should keep in mind is that platinum doesn’t melt. This means that you won’t be able to reshape your platinum jewelry into something else if you grow tired of it.

Stainless steel, copper & brass jewelry

While these metals are not precious metals like silver, gold and platinum, they have many advantages.

  • Stainless steel is durable, doesn’t scratch, is easy to clean and perfect for people with nickel allergies.
  • Copper has a unique color, is bohemian and versatile. It can tarnish but it is easy to remove the tarnish with a polishing cloth.
  • Brass has a beautiful texture and a vibrant color that resembles gold.

Fine jewelry styling rules

When you wear gemstone jewelry, there are a couple of styling rules that you need to remember.

  • You can combine metals, even gold with silver. But if you do this, make sure there is a common element to tie them up. Wearing a gold ring with a silver bracelet may not look so great unless you have another white & yellow gold ring to make the transition. When you combine metals of completely different colors (such as yellow gold and silver), you need to have a transition piece. If you combine metals with similar colors (platinum with white gold, silver with stainless steel, etc), you are okay without a transition piece.
  • Some gemstones don’t work well with others. In general, you should combine your precious gemstones with other precious ones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires & emeralds). Your semi-precious stones are ok when matched with other semi-precious stones, except for organic ones (pearls, coral & amber). Pearls look good with diamonds, clear crystals, opals or moonstones.
  • Precious gemstone jewelry, except for diamonds which are versatile, is better for formal ocassions. Semi precious gemstone jewelry, on the other hand, looks great on both casual and formal ocassions.

To discover more about gemstone jewelry styling rules and birthstone jewelry, read this article.

Gemstone jewelry cleaning & maintenace tips

When you clean gemstone jewelry, you have to be very careful not to ruin it. To be on the safe side, you should avoid mechanical cleaning methods with gemstone jewelry. Clean your jewelry using a lint-free cloth dipped in soapy water or a soft jewelry brush (or a toothbrush). Don’t forget to rinse and dry it. In addition to this:

  • Polish your gold jewelry every two months using a polishing cloth. Make sure you only polish your solid gold jewelry. Don’t use the cloth on gold plated, gold filled or vermeil jewelry.
  • Your silver jewelry also needs polishing to remove tarnish. However, if you notice a thick layer of tarnish, take it to the jewelry shop for professional cleaning.
  • Your pearl jewelry is fragile, so avoid water or any chemicals, even when cleaning it.
  • Don’t use perfume, body lotions or creams when you are wearing your gemstone jewelry. Make sure you put it on only after you have used these products.
  • Don’t exercise or perform intense physical activities while wearing your jewelry.
  • Don’t go swimming in the pool or the sea with your gemstone jewelry on.
  • Make sure you hang your gemstone necklace from a necklace tree to avoid getting them tangled.

Find out more about how to clean jewelry from this cleaning & care guide.

Now that you know the most important things about gemstone jewelry, you can start your gemstone search. To view our unique collection of fine jewelry, visit Ana Luisa online shop. For more information about jewelry and fashion, read our other articles and share our blog with your friends!

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.