Gemstone Jewelry Buying Guide

Aesthetic beauty, rarity, clarity, durability and more are all hallmarks of what attracts us to these colorful feats of geological magnificence.

Shopping for gemstone jewelry can be an exciting adventure into the world of gemstones, but it can also quickly become overwhelming for those unfamiliar with the unique styles and grades available.

For example, how do you know which gemstones are rare or valuable? What types of clarity or color are important for various stones? How do you find a timeless piece of gemstone jewelry your loved one can wear for years to come?

Perhaps you’re scrambling for a last-minute set of gemstone earrings as an anniversary gift. Or maybe you’re buying a gemstone necklace or bracelet for yourself (you’ve earned it!). No matter the reason or occasion, this guide will help take you through the steps of what to look for when buying gemstone jewelry for yourself or that special someone in your life.

How is Buying Gemstones Different from Buying Diamonds?

If you’re already familiar with how to purchase diamond jewelry, congratulations! You’re already acquainted with the majority of the “basics” involved in buying precious stones. The same four Cs—color, cut, clarity, and carat— that apply to diamond, also applies to buying gemstone jewelry. However, gemstones are different from diamonds in a few important ways.

Factors Impacting the Color

First, the color, cut, and clarity of a gem will determine the brilliance of its color. By contrast, when purchasing a diamond, these qualities influence its sparkle. Gemstones are known for their brilliant sparkle—but their bright colors are their most standout feature.

Natural or Lab Grown

Second, like most things in life, gemstones can be found in nature or lab-created. This means you’ll have more options when buying gemstone jewelry. Even if you just spent a fortune on a vacation, you may still be able to afford an impressive gemstone necklace thanks to simulated gems.

The Right Stone for the Right Occasion

Finally, certain stones are traditionally associated with certain occasions. Sapphires are given as a 5th anniversary gift; Emeralds are given to celebrate May birthdays. If you’re giving gemstone earrings as a gift, it can help to know the gemstone associated with your milestone event. Your loved one might be secretly hoping for a gift of that exact gemstone.

Below, we cover the points you’ll want to remember when buying gemstone jewelry…

How Do I Find a High-Quality Gemstone?

Color

Color is one of the most defining qualities of a gemstone.

Generally, gemstones with strong colors (known as “high saturation” gems) are considered more valuable. The purity of the stone’s color is also important. Brown, yellow, or grey tones can dull the appearance of a gemstone.

Want to know a secret? Not all gemstones are stereotypical hues! Some emeralds have a grassy green appearance, and some rubies are more pink than red.

So what should you choose? We recommend you purchase whatever stone you feel is the most beautiful. Even if some stones are considered more or less valuable because of their coloring, the most beautiful stone is the one that you love.

Cut

Unlike diamonds, gemstones cannot all be cut using the same traditional cuts. This is because some stones are only found in certain sizes and shapes. Others are best-suited to certain cuts due to their color, clarity, or hardness.

Some cuts are meant to show off a gem’s smooth, flawless surfaces. Others are designed to maximize sparkle. A few cuts are multitaskers—they combine smooth surfaces with brilliant sparkle. When buying gemstone jewelry, pick a cut that fits your style and personality.

Clarity

Clarity is just as important for gemstones as it is for diamonds. A clear gemstone will reflect and direct light in a way that enhances its color and sparkle. There are only a few cases in which a flaw (or “occlusion”) increases the value of a stone. These are generally occlusions which appear intentional or designed rather than incidental.

Carat

Finally, the carat weight of a gemstone is an important part to consider when buying gemstone jewelry. Because carat refers to weight—not dimensions or volume—a ruby weighing 1 carat will not be the same size as a diamond or emerald of the same weight. That’s okay! Some gems are limited in size simply because large sizes are rare in nature. As a result, some gemstones are more expensive in larger weights than others.

Simulated vs Natural Gemstones

If you want a pure, high-carat gemstone without the price tag of a rare stone, we’ve got just what you need. Look for simulated gemstone jewelry. Lab-created stones are chemically identical to natural gemstones—a simulated sapphire is still a sapphire, and a simulated emerald is still an emerald. Simulated gems can be grown at sizes and clarities not often found in natural environments. As a result, this type of jewelry tends to provide more options at lower prices. Score!

Gemstones by Occasion

Buying a birthday or anniversary gift? Jewelry has been a traditional gift for hundreds of years. Many gemstones have been tied to specific events, milestones, and occasions. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common.

If you’re not sure which gemstone your loved one wants, it’s safe to stick with their birthstone. Many people collect jewelry adorned with their birthstone. Not to mention, your loved one will appreciate the extra thought put into their gift, with earrings and necklaces almost always making for a winning gift.

Birthstones:

  • January: Garnet
  • February: Amethyst
  • March: Aquamarine
  • April: Diamond
  • May: Emerald
  • June: Pearl
  • July: Ruby
  • August: Peridot
  • September: Sapphire
  • October: Opal
  • November: Topaz
  • December: Tanzanite

Anniversaries:

  • 5th anniversary: Sapphire
  • 15th anniversary: Ruby
  • 20th and 35th anniversaries: Emerald
  • 40th anniversary: Ruby
  • 45th anniversary: Sapphire

Final Thoughts on Purchasing Gemstone Jewelry

Buying gemstone jewelry can be a daunting experience. However, with knowledge of the various hues, weights, cuts, and options, you can select the perfect earrings, ring, bracelet, or necklace. Whether you’re buying a gift for a loved one or treating yourself to a new piece, gemstone jewelry is a timeless, classic selection.