Gemstones may not be the first thing that pops up in your mind when you think of jewelry but when you get to know them, you will definitely be mesmerized by their vivid colors and characteristics. Many of them have very rich heritage and often have different symbolic representations, enriching the meaning of each gemstone jewelry piece especially when they are used as gifts.
BisouMargaux’s gemstones guide aims to introduce you to the colorful and romantic world of gemstones, from their heritage to their attributes.
Unlike diamonds, gemstones may not have clear grading guidelines to distinguish their qualities. Their colored base tone may sometimes make the reflection of light more difficult. Thus, getting a gemstone with the right color and the right sparkle takes more than just general gemstones knowledge and gemstones certificate.
A magnificent jewelry piece does not always have to come with a big price tag!
With a very experienced eye, our gemstone specialists identify gemstones that achieve the right balance – exploiting the beauty of colors while maintaining its sparkle. At the same time, extending such brilliance to all our customers!
Since ancient times, the green emerald has been cherished for its connotations of nature, rebirth, harmony and enduring love. The ancient Romans associated the color green with Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. The 55th wedding anniversary is often celebrated with the gift of an emerald. If your birthday is in the month of May, emerald is your birthstone. And we all have fond memories of the home of the Wizard of Oz – the Emerald City. In the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism, these precious green gems are said to have healing properties. So loved were emeralds by the moguls of India that they wore them as talismans and inscribed on them sacred texts – a practice that evolved into a vibrant industry of gemstone cutting in Jaipur. There is a rich body of folklore around the emerald. Some have associated it with supernatural powers of predicting the future. Emeralds are said to improve the owner’s memory and eloquence and sharpen intelligence. A species of the mineral beryl, the emerald derives its green color from trace amounts of chromium and occasionally vanadium. Colombia is the primary source of emeralds; they are also found in smaller quantities around the globe. As with diamonds, the cost of an emerald depends on its 4C profile – color or hue, cut, clarity, carat weight and country of origin – as well as a criterion called “crystal” or transparency. In the grading of colored gemstones, color is the most important characteristic. The best emeralds are pure verdant green in hue and highly transparent. The color of emeralds ranges from yellow-green to blue-green, of course with a predominance of green. Yellow, blue and red – hues adjacent to green on the color spectrum – are the secondary hues typically found in these precious stones. Tone refers to the different shades in the emerald and indicates depth of color; tone ranges from colorless to black. Emeralds are medium to dark in tone with a vivid hue; lighter toned stones are distinct and in the green beryl species. Saturation refers to how vivid or strong the color is or color purity – the degree of absence of brown or gray hues. Gray is the normal saturation modifier in emeralds; a grayish-green hue will appear dull green. Emeralds contain many more inclusions and surface-breaking fissures than diamonds and sapphires and thus, are more delicate. Unlike diamonds, these inclusions are easily visible to the human eye. For this reason, emerald clarity is graded by sight, not under magnification. So if the average person with normal vision sees no inclusions, she is looking at a flawless emerald. However, flawless emeralds are extremely rare and can be more valuable than diamonds. Even with inclusions, a deep, lively-green colored emerald likely has a much higher value than an almost flawless emerald that is paler in color. Very large, top quality emeralds are rare, and the price of such a stone would likely be higher than that of a diamond of the same weight. The most valuable emeralds are “eye-clean” and have a vivid primary green hue with a maximum of 15% of any secondary hue or combination (yellow or blue) of a medium-dark tone. The brittleness and number of fissures in emeralds make cutting a job for only experienced gem cutters. In fact, the “emerald cut” was developed to accommodate the special challenges of working with these stones. Rectangular or square, the beveled corners of the emerald cut maximize the natural beauty of the stone and protect it from damage during the design process. Emeralds are also cut in other shapes. If the raw stone has many inclusions, it is often cut into a delicate cabochon or into emerald beads, a favorite in India.
Colored Gemstone Enhancement and Grading
As with many colored gemstones, most emeralds are treated with oil to enhance clarity. (However, the use of green-tinted oil is not acceptable in the trade.) Emeralds are graded on a four-step scale that refers to the level of enhancement, not clarity: none, minor, moderate or highly enhanced. Inclusions may still be visible on an emerald graded “none.” Enhancing colored gemstones for color and/or clarity has been a standard practice for centuries – and most colored stones sold by fine jewelers are enhanced in some way. Unenhanced colored gemstones are very rare and very expensive. All BisouMargaux diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires come with identification certificates issued by respected international gemological laboratories such as the IGI or EGL. The certificate indicates the type of enhancement technique, if any, that has been applied to the stone.
The ruby is the consummate expression of passionate love. Warm, hot and fiery – the ruby symbolizes unbridled affection. There is nothing controlled about the love embodied in a ruby – it is vital and powerful. Natural rubies are gemstones whose color varies from light red to dark. Like sapphires, rubies are of the corundum mineral species and they are sometimes referred to as red sapphires. The presence of the element chromium is what gives rubies their red color. Gems in the corundum species are extremely hard stones, second only to diamonds. Historically rubies have been mined predominantly in Asia but are found in countries around the globe. As with diamonds, the cost of a ruby depends on its 4C profile – color or hue, cut, clarity, carat weight and country of origin – as well as a criterion called “crystal” or transparency. In rubies the primary hue is red. A ruby may also exhibit secondary hues including orange, purple, violet and pink. The primary color of high quality rubies is a vivid medium-dark toned red. A purple secondary hue is desirable because it enhances the richness of the red color. Pigeon blood-red rubies are the most vivid and most valuable and command a huge premium over similar quality rubies. After color, discriminating buyers seek clarity. Cut and carat weight also have a bearing on the price of a ruby. All natural rubies have imperfections such as color impurities and inclusions of rutile needles known as “silk.” These needle inclusions are how professionals distinguish natural rubies from synthetics; a ruby without rutiles indicates the stone may have been treated. Like blue star sapphires, some rubies have a three- or six-point asterism or “star” resulting from intersecting needle-like inclusions. Star rubies are rare and desirable – and their inclusions do not necessarily impair the quality of the stone unless they interfere with transparency or are located at the centre of the table. Often inclusions are valued for statements of individuality and proof of authenticity and natural origin. As with all gemstones, a masterful cut is a key factor contributing to the beauty of a ruby. In general, a ruby with virtually no inclusions, vivid color and of large size can surpass the value of a diamond in the same category.
Colored Gemstone Enhancement
As with other colored gemstones, rubies can be treated to enhance their appearance – and this has been a standard practice for centuries. Most colored stones sold by fine jewelers are enhanced in some way. Unenhanced colored gemstones are very rare and very expensive. Treatments include color alteration, dissolving rutile inclusions to improve transparency, and mending fractures or filling them. Color enhancement with heat application is common. Lead glass filling of fractures is also widely used to achieve dramatic improvement in transparency. Excellent quality rubies that are completely untreated are very expensive. All BisouMargaux diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires come with identification certificates issued by respected international gemological laboratories such as the IGI or EGL. The certificate indicates the type of enhancement technique, if any, that has been applied to the stone.
Diamonds are the classic symbol of a strong, enduring love – but many couples also choose sapphires as engagement rings to celebrate their romantic love and commitment. Most sapphires are blue – a rich velvet blue is what comes into in most people’s minds. Largely due to their durability, blue sapphires are popular for engagement rings because they symbolize constancy, reliability and loyalty. Blue sapphires are also popular wedding anniversary gifts. Natural sapphires are cherished for their wonderful uniqueness. Natural fancy sapphires come in a rainbow of glorious colors: yellow, green, orange, brown, pink, lavenders and purples, and bluish green. Lighter sapphire shades invoke the brilliance of sunsets, while darker tints may conjure images of distant horizons. When it comes to pink, the deeper the color the more valuable the sapphire, because it veers into the red zone of the highly desirable ruby. Rare sapphires are gestures of deep devotion. Natural sapphires, those extracted from the Earth, are of the corundum mineral species – as are rubies and padparadscha, a pinkish orange variety of corundum. Gems in the corundum species are extremely hard stones, second only to diamonds. Fancy colored sapphires are rarer than blue stones, are often just as beautiful, and usually less expensive. Yellow, orange, lavender, and other pastel-colored sapphires are especially well priced. Sapphires may also be colorless, and some are found in shades of gray and black. The most valuable fancy sapphire is the orange-pink padparadscha – a very rare stone that is priced similar to fine blue sapphires. As with diamonds, the cost of a natural sapphire depends on its 4C profile – color, clarity, carat weight, and cut – as well as country of origin. The largest natural sapphire deposits are found in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, East Africa and Eastern Australia. Different varieties of corundum are distinguished by color or hue, saturation, tone, clarity, internal characteristics and optical phenomena. Saturation refers to how vivid or strong the color is or color purity – the degree of absence of brown or gray hues. The most valuable sapphires exhibit a near-pure primary color and only slight other hues. Tone refers to the different shades in the gemstone and is described as “light,” “medium light,” “medium,” “medium dark,” and “dark.” Tone indicates depth of color and ranges from colorless to black. Clarity and cut are key factors in fancy-colored pastel sapphires. Naturally, inclusions are more noticeable in lighter stones, and the cut should reflect light evenly across the face of the stone to enhance liveliness and brilliance. Cut is less of an issue with darker, more intense-colored stones. The star-like phenomenon in blue star sapphires is called an asterism. It results from intersecting needle-like inclusions that render a six-pronged star-like pattern under a focused light source. The value of a blue star sapphire depends on carat weight as well as the body color, visibility and intensity of the asterism.
Colored Gemstone Enhancement
Enhancing colored gemstones for color and/or clarity has been a standard practice for centuries – and most colored stones sold by fine jewelers are enhanced in some way. Unenhanced colored gemstones are very rare and very expensive. In some cases, heat is applied during the polishing and finishing process. Another age-old method is to infuse the stone with colored or colourless wax, oil or resin to enhance clarity. These materials are also applied to the exterior to improve appearance and durability. Some stones are bleached to lighten color or enhance color consistency; some stones have been dyed to enhance or alter color. All BisouMargaux diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires come with identification certificates issued by respected international gemological laboratories such as the IGI or EGL. The certificate indicates the type of enhancement technique, if any, that has been applied to the stone.