The colored gemstone world is a much more artistic and sophisticated world than that of white diamonds. Where diamonds often look identical, in the color stone world each stone has a character of its own. To find a matched pair or create a layout to make a bracelet or a necklace is a truly elaborate task. This is an ability that can be mastered over time, for which one needs to have a very delicate sensibility to color to master the slight differences in hue between gemstones.
When one is looking at a precious colored gemstone, there are four factors that should be taken into consideration; Size, Shape/Cutting Style, Color, and Clarity/Brilliancy.
Size is an important factor in precious gemstones and is characterized by carat weight. In most circumstances the larger the stone is the more valuable it is, as it is rarer to come across larger gemstones.
Shape / Cutting Style
The shape of a stone is what gives it its character. The important thing when looking at the shape of a gemstone is that it has symmetry and even proportions. The cut of a stone can often make all the difference. This is the only characteristic of a gemstone that is controlled by man. An expert cutter can transform a gemstone by accentuating all of its strengths. Although by cutting a stone you lose in carat weight, the improvement that can be done to the stone could significantly amplify its value. Unlike most companies in the world who cut stones to keep the maximum weight, at Bayco we re-cut each stone we purchase to amplify its beauty to the maximum level possible.
Precious gemstones can come in many shades of a color. Some stones may come out too pale, others may be too dark; although color has a lot to do with personal taste, to find the perfect tone of color is a master skill.
As most precious gemstones are highly included, stones that have minimal to no inclusions at all are extremely rare, therefore less inclusion equal a higher value. This is because the fewer inclusions a stone has, the higher the brilliancy will be. A stone with a high luster is always more desirable.
In ancient times it was believed that Earth either rested on, or was set in, a magnificent sapphire that turned the sky blue in the reflected sunlight – a beautiful description, as sapphire occurs in every imaginable shade of blue, matching the changing moods of the skies. Blue sapphires can come in many different shades ranging from a pastel blue, to cornflower blue and royal blue, which are the two most sought after shades, all the way to a dark grayish blue. Although sapphires are known mostly for their blue color, they come in all colors.
*Natural sapphires are commonly heat treated to improve the color and brilliance of the stone. Since most sapphires have undergone this standard treatment, to find a sapphire that is unheated is very rare and therefore they fetch higher prices.
One of the most significant events to occur in the realm of blue sapphires took place in the early 1880s, when a rockslide in the Himalayan Mountains of Kashmir revealed a source of blue sapphires which has become legendary for the exquisite gems recovered there. Although Kashmir has produced only a limited number of gems as the mine was exhausted in 1946, the soft, velvety cornflower blue color of Kashmir sapphires remains the epitome of this gem variety, one highly regarded by connoisseurs and collectors alike.
As with rubies, the remote valley of Mogok also became a primary source for gem quality sapphires. Although sapphire mining still continues in Burma, the amount of material that is exhumed is quite minimal. Top quality Burmese sapphires are coveted for their exceptional crystal material, vibrant brilliance, and royal blue color.
Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
The island of Ceylon was the world’s first source of sapphires and remained the premier supplier of these gem-quality stones for centuries. Many consider Ceylon sapphires among the best in the world. Known for their beautiful blue hue, even color saturation, and exceptional clarity, the finest of the Ceylon sapphires come from the renowned Elahera mines, the best of which are of such exceptional quality that they can be compared to the legendary Kashmir stones.
For the past two decades Madagascar has experienced a sapphire rush. Although sapphires have been known to exist in Madagascar as early as the 16th century, serious sapphire mining on the island is a relatively recent phenomenon due to the quality of the new material. Today top quality Madagascar sapphires are as requested as their Ceylon counterparts. Sapphires from Madagascar are known to have a beautiful vivid blue color, high clarity, and excellent brilliancy.
Other sapphire sources include: Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, China, Colombia, India, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, USA, and Vietnam.
The King of gemstones owes its popularity to its intense fiery color and symbolic values. The shades of ruby are countless: they range from pink through blood red to darkest purple. The most highly regarded color is what is known as “pigeon blood” red rubies, a dark, saturated shade of carmine red. The more intense the color and vivid the sparkle, the more sought after is the ruby. Another important characteristic to consider when valuating rubies is that the vast majority of rubies come in sizes under 5 carats. Stones over 5 carats are extremely rare and those over 10 carats are an irregularity in nature.
* Natural rubies are commonly heat treated to improve the color and brilliance of the stone. Since most rubies have undergone this standard treatment, to find a ruby that is unheated is very rare and therefore they fetch significantly higher prices.
The first discoveries of rubies are only vaguely traceable to the 15th century. Burmese rubies have a long history and represent the finest quality rubies found on the world market, most of which come from the famous Mogok mines, which are also known as “The Valley of the Rubies”. These are the most sought after of rubies, the best of which come in a vibrant “pigeon’s blood” red color and high luster.
Rubies were first discovered in Thailand during the early 1400’s near Chantaburi, in the south east of the country on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. Thai rubies are often known to be darker than their Burmese counterparts, but the finest Thai rubies display an incredibly high level of clarity and brilliance and come in a vivid red color known in the trade as “imperial red”.
Ruby deposits were first discovered in Tanzania around 1950’s. These rubies are often a softer shade of red, usually with a tinge of orange hue. They usually have very good clarity and a soft luster.
In 2008 new ruby deposits were discovered in Mozambique. The finest quality rubies coming from these mines have similar characteristics to those from Burma; they are of a vibrant red color with a fine luster.
Other ruby sources include: Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Vietnam.
This illustrious and most esteemed member of the beryl family has long been regarded as one of the most precious of all gemstones, surpassed only by ruby. Emeralds are known for their beautiful green color, its grass green primary hue is usually modified by slight bluish or yellowish undertones. A vivid, slightly yellowish green is the most desirable color.
* Emeralds are usually quite included. The vast majority of emeralds have been treated to improve their clarity and appearance, a practice that has been widely accepted for centuries. A natural and colorless oil with a refractive index similar to emerald, is the most common and accepted method of treatment, providing a stable and reversible effect.
The term “old mine” is used in the trade to describe emeralds which are considered antique, typically of considerable size, and cut in an antique manner. As Indian Maharadjahs and Emperors of the Mogul dynasty adorned themselves with such stones, old mine emeralds are considered valuable not only for their beauty and quality, but also for their pedigree. Old Mine emeralds are thought to be brought to Europe by the Spanish, and further to the trade routes to Asia. These emeralds are of exceptional quality, having a superb clarity and brilliancy for an emerald as well as a coveted yellowish green hue which seems to glow from within the stone.
*Unless the pedigree is properly documented, antique emeralds from the Mogul era cannot be differentiated by analytical means from recently found emeralds cut and carved in an antique style. Thus, the term “old mine” or “old Indian mine” should not be used by gem labs to indicate a geographic origin or a mining period.
Until the late Middle Ages there were only two known emerald deposits: Jebel Sikai in Egypt and the Habach Valley in Austria. It was only when the Spanish landed in South America in the 16th century that further deposits were discovered. It was only by chance that the Muzo mine in Colombia was finally discovered. Even today this mine remains the source of the most exquisite emeralds. Known for their rich green color and beautiful luster, the most sought after emeralds come from Colombia.
Emeralds were first discovered in Zambia in the 1950’s but large scale mining of the stones did not happen until the early 1970’s. Although Colombian emeralds still are considered to be the best ones in the world and are the most expensive ones, Zambian emeralds can be just as good or even better. The top quality Zambian emeralds have excellent clarity and brilliancy and come in a beautiful yellowish green hue which sometimes can be similar to those of old-mine emeralds.
Other emerald sources include: Afghanistan, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, Russia, Tanzania, United States, and Zimbabwe.