May 28, 2009 by Yelena Jenkins
When buying a colored gemstone, many people do not pay adequate attention to the gemstone’s rating. Since colored gemstones are less expensive than diamonds and their colors tend to help hide flaws in the stone, people tend to be more forgiving with their analysis of the gems they purchase. However, when determining whether a particular piece of jewelry is a great deal or whether it is overpriced, knowing the gemstone’s rating is very important. To help educate customers on finding out the value of a gemstone, we’ve pulled together a quick guide to gemstone ratings.
How Gemstones Are Graded
As with diamonds, colored gemstones are valued and rated with the 4 C’s: cut, clarity, color and carat. Once the gemstone has been evaluated on these four criteria, a final grade is given to the gem. The final grade falls on a scale of AAA – D, with AAA being near perfect and D being a poor quality gemstone.
What The Gemstone Grades Mean
A Rating: An A rated gemstone is a good quality gemstone. The gem is well cut, has a good transparency and lets light through, and has few inclusions. For top quality gemstones, there is also an AA and AAA rating. These ratings are reserved for exceptional gems, especially with precious stones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Semi-precious stones such as amethyst and garnet seem to pass more easily with a AA rating.
B Rating: B rated gemstones have minor to light inclusions, and the color of the stone isn’t the optimal color. The stone is still transparent, however, and many B quality stones are still used for smaller gemstones in jewelry.
C Rating: C rated gemstones have visible inclusions, as well as portions that are not entirely transparent. The translucency does not allow as much light to pass through, which makes these stones less sparkly and more flat (dull) to the eye. C rated gemstones are rarely used in larger sizes, and are sometimes used as chip stones in pave and micro pave sizes.
D Rating: D rated gemstones are heavily included, obviously translucent and allow minimal light through. D rated gemstones are suitable for use as cabochons or rock-like pieces, but do not have a high value.
Gemstone Rating Tips to Keep In Mind
Unlike a specific grading report where a gemstone is evaluated clearly on each of the 4 C’s, a gemstone’s grade is somewhat open to interpretation and can be fuzzy. Gemstone grades can be particularly confusing to the untrained eye of a consumer, and some unscrupulous jewelers take advantage of this fact by inflating the grading on their colored gemstones.
When in doubt, or when buying a very expensive gemstone, ask for the full grading report that has detailed information on the 4 C’s to evaluate the gemstone’s worth. For most gemstone purchases however, if the color is the hue what you want and the ring looks beautiful and sparkly to the eye, it is probably a good quality gem.
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