Buying or selling gemstones is something most jewelers, big or small, have to do at some point of their careers. If you have started a home based business selling hand made jewelry knowing your gems can save you lots of money when buying supplies, and allow you to price correctly expensive pieces that use precious gemstones, both when buying and selling. Learning how to determine the price of a gem starts with knowing how gems are evaluated.
Grading Versus Quality
When determining the price of a gem it’s important to note that grading is not always directly related to how beautiful a particular gemstone looks or how suitable it is for a particular jewelry piece. Jewelers grade precious Opal gemstones based on how rare they are, but that doesn’t mean that a highly graded piece is much more beautiful or suitable than a smaller one. You can find bargain gemstones for your designs that have some flaw that deems them less valuable in the eyes of a jeweler, but is not even visible to the naked eye.
Gems are valued depending on their colour or hue, its saturation (from pastel to vivid pure tones) and its tone (from dark to light). Generally speaking, a gem with pure hues with vivid and saturated colours will be worth more than another with a pastel tones. While rubies, diamonds and other expensive gemstones can suffer in value due to minor variations in colour, less expensive gems are less affected. For example, a white diamond will be valued much more than a yellowish one, or a pure blood red ruby more than one with orange undertones.
Inclusions are imperfections on a stone that affect their transparency, caused by fractures, bits of other minerals, or even little bubbles of air. Imperfections that are invisible to the naked eye can have a serious effect on the price of the gem, as pure transparent gems are much more rare and so more valuable. You can find much cheaper gems by buying those with inclusions that are only visible at short range, specially if you are working with semi-precious stones. However, fractures can make a gem weaker and more likely to break, which can be a problem on items such as a ring.
How the stone was cut and the shape given has a great influence on the final price of gemstones. A symmetrical piece with perfect refraction is much more expensive and valuable than one that has rough edges or scratches, even if you need a magnifying glass to see them. The type and quality of the cut greatly affects the brilliance of a stone, and high quality stones always have a particular sparkle that cheap industrial cutting cannot really accomplish.
A big stone will always be more rare and so more expensive than a small sized one. The price is not even proportional to the size, a gemstone can be worth much more than the combined values of two equivalent ones in half the size, so if you are crafting jewelry for sale you may want to start with smaller stones as they are less expensive. The way the stones are set on the final piece of jewelry can also make them look bigger, so a design with a few clustered gemstones can look as good as one with a single bigger one, but much more affordable.