Then we have the more floristic greens coming from
Watch out for the blue-green like the one here, they have gained much financial ground over the last years. Especially those rare specimens holding equilibrium of green and blue have been strongly appreciated.
Finally there are are the legendary
Commonly stars are known in ruby and sapphire but they also appear in garnet, spinel and other less known varieties. There are differences between those stars but we will here pretend that nature made all stars equal.
Gemstone phenomena, especially asterism, are a tough call to judge on photo. However, no normal jeweler will be able to show you a fine natural star sapphire, let alone a selection to choose from. Good stars are rare even beyond the normal gemstone rarity. Unless you live in a metropolis or travel to
There is nothing wrong with twenty carat Linde star for fifty dollar, but be wary of those sellers trying to offer them as real deal for $20,000.
Here are some typical examples of undisclosed fake stars:
Here is what to look for when selecting a star sapphire or ruby online.
|Star Spinel||Black Sapphire||Pink Sapphire|
Three remarks, though:
2. Symmetry and linearity too, are easy: What you see is what you get.
Photo: A rather symmetric white star sapphire with some snaky rays.
4. Travel, the ability and smoothness of the star traveling over the stone, is not really possible to show on the web (not yet at least). Until online video technology has advanced further, you will have to rely on the seller's description and check later in person.
Ideally the star follows a light source smoothly, not jerking and jumping, while staying intact and sharp. Don't expect perfection though: Every star has a weak area or two. Value reducing would be a loss of completeness or even a sudden disappearance of the star during movement.
6. Position too, is a tricky business on the internet. In order to show the star on a photo one must bring it close to the center. Thus, on a photo, the star will usually be centered. But that does not mean it actually is.
Photo: Three stars looking halfway centered which are in person off centered:
Even a 100% centered star would need camera and spotlight in the same position (which is next to impossible). Hence, position is always a criterion that one must question further even if the photo looks great.
Sometimes you may see the light coming obviously from the side while the star sits centered, meaning that, when the light is moved up, the star will probably shift off-center. However, this is not 100% conclusive. Mostly you will need to rely on the seller's evaluation.
Whenever useful we try to put a number to off-centeredness: "45 degree off-center" for example indicates that when the spotlight is positioned straight above, the center of the star sits half way down the stone. Ten degree would mean the star is just slightly off center and more than 60 degree would send it nearly over the edge.
6. Lucidity & Depth are connected. In one extreme we will have completely opaque material with the star sitting on the surface. Opaqueness is easy to spot on photos. It looks like a solid piece of material with the rays fixed or painted onto the surface.
Photo: Opaque star ruby with the star confined to the surface.
At the other end of the spectrum we may have highly transparent quality with the rays reaching into the body. One can, however, not expect 100% transparency because needles are necessary to break the light and show the star.
If the needles are very fine and yet the star is clearly visible, then ... There is magic: The rays sway like silver curtains inside this most dense material.
Photo: Semi-Translucent star sapphire with rays reaching into the gem
Most stars however are rather opaque characters and transparency is highly priced.
So much to the evaluation of asterism.
The remaining four points are also relevant in normal gems but some additions are helpful.
Most stars come in grayish, foggy mild colors. Exceptions, like the one below, exist but they are very costly and yet can not rival the intenseness of a 100% transparent gem:
One has to appreciate the silkiness as part of the phenomena, and see the color as an add-on. Even grayish white stars have good value if their asterism is of high quality.
The main problem, however, when judging colors on photo springs from the fact that any spotlight, needed to show the star, affects the character of the color. There is no cure to this.
If the spotlight alters the color too much we often add a "no-star" image to show the gem's "2nd" color. This means one image to show the star, and one more to show the color (without a spotlight) under mixed and diffused light conditions:
However, this is not fully satisfying since star quality and color saturation interact. Again you have to read the sellers description carefully and trust his judgment until you can examine the stone yourself.
Hence, the worst of all possible stars will be valued close to a cabochon of similar quality. Thinking of ruby, we would, at some point, discard the asterism and cut the cabochon into a facetted gem with that sought-after silky ruby sheen.
8. Clarity: Stars are by nature often more included than normal facetted gemstones (beyond their needle structure). This may be connected to their geological origin as semi-transparent material. However, inclusions should not dominate the overall appearance or hinder the rays from traveling.
Photo: Star padparadscha with orange inclusions and yellow color zones adding beautifully to the sunset theme.
Stars also often display stronger color zones. Here too, one has to be tolerant. As long as the star runs unhindered through those color zones you are still on the good side, even if the price of such a gem must be well below an evenly saturated sample.
Photo: Pear shape star sapphire (pair)
Generally, asymmetric shapes or other unevenness will reduce prices or should be re-cut straight away. Stars may come flat or dome shaped but this isn't of much importance since there are no windows or blackouts to fear as in facetted gems.
10. Finally the finish of a star: While the dome must be smooth and evenly polished the bottom is often left rough and uneven, frequently even with unattractive edges, holes and other flaws. Don't worry about it.
Photo: As-good-as-it-gets back of a star sapphire: Unpolished, no over-weight, no flaws.
The bottom does not need to be nice but must be as small as possible, not bulging and thus producing extra weight. Enough bottom to accommodate a setting is all weight you want to pay for. A tiny star sitting on a giant rock of corundum will not be priced per carat.
Many gem dealers will claim that stars can not be treated. This is nonsense. They can not be ultra-high-heated above 1200 degree because this might melt the needles. Stars are regularly heated below 1200 degree, lead-glass-healed, diffused or filled with bismuth or other chemicals.
Buying Pairs on the Internet
Here is some advice on how to judge pairs on the web. These are valid for all varieties, not only sapphires. Images of pairs are tricky even by gemstone standards. It is best to concentrate on facts (clarity, tone, dimensions etc.) and use the photos as additional information and overview.
The collector knows there are no two identical gemstones. If you see a 100% identical pair online it is most likely one stone copied and rotated digitally.
Unless you settle for a calibrated and artificially colored stone cut by a machine you will have to accept some differences, especially when you use the lens. However, two gemstones need to have a similar appearance and character to be in harmony as a pair.
A practical test for two similar gems is simply to mix them up. If you need the carat weight to sort them back to their certificates they have passed the test.
In a more thorough approach let us follow the 4C to evaluate a pair:
Carat (size): Many people get overly focused on searching identical carat weight in pairs. This is not necessary and indeed very rare to find. More relevant is the so called "face", the upside dimension of a gem. Two gems might have the same carat weight and yet very different faces and vice versa.
As a rule of thumb you should be searching for gems in the same weight class, say 2-3 carat and then, more importantly, look at the dimensions of the face. Consider width and length. They are most important since they determine the visible face. A pair with too much deviation in the visible part is no good for jewelry.
How much deviation is too much? This is better looked at in relative, rather than in absolute terms. One millimeter difference on a 20mm pear shape might be acceptable but a catastrophe on a 4mm round gem. Barring exceptions we allow pairs to have max. 5% deviation from each other.
The third dimension, depth, is less relevant for your choice assuming that the face is similar and that there are no bad windows. Depth however is the main parameter for weight. Hence, you may find gemstone pairs with equal face dimensions but very different carat weight. Yet, they can be perfect twins for jewelry if the cut is good enough to cover up missing depth, which leads us to the next point:
Cut: Choosing two different cuts or even shapes, say a trillion and a square in a pair is quite exotic; and it is done rarely (but could be charming).
Generally, however, people want near identical cuts. Ideally a pair has been cut to match. It was thus faceted by the same cutter from the same rough material. With "same mine run & same cutter" one has a good chance of getting two gems with a similar character to begin with.
The more important luster is for a gemstone, the more emphasis will rest on identical cuts. A pair of white diamonds for example needs to be machine cut to be 100% equal (which they mostly are in calibrated sizes). In a less lustrous gem, say a midnight blue sapphire or a brown tourmaline, the details of each facet will not be so influential.
As mentioned before, differences in depth can be covered by a clever cutter but this has limits. Too little depth results in windows and there is no way out. If both gems show similar windows that might be OK, but it is very disharmonic to have one fish-eye and one full body sparkler displayed together.
Color: As always in this trade color beats them all. Ruby, tsavorite or sapphires are primarily bought for their magnificent colors and only secondarily for their luster. Some gems like
However, most gems are color-first animals.
Tone: Differences in tone are easier to stomach than differences in color composition (mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd color). This is true especially in darker varieties. (Remember: Tone is the amount of black/white not the saturation). A deep blue sapphire of medium dark 75 will easily fit with a medium dark 80. But be careful with e.g. light yellow or green. There, even small differences in tone will be very visible.
Remark: We would rather suggest using pairs of completely different colors for jewelry than allow different hues in one color. Using two unconnected colors however is quite exotic and we do it only on request. (How about a neon red spinel set with two chrome green tourmalines for example?)
Remark: Hence, matching pairs are even rarer in natural gems because they lack the uniformity of treatment. Heat or diffusion brings out similar colors in similar rough. The result is a more consistent color mix. Matched unheated ruby or sapphires are therefore a difficult hunt. In fact, this is one reason for the spread of treated gems: Making a necklace with 50 matching sapphires is only possible on a high budget or with high heat. Similarly the industrial production of 5,000 rings with a similar colored blue gem demands controlled artificial coloring.
Clarity: A matching pair should be on the same clarity level. One may accept a "free of inclusions" next to a "very slightly included", meaning both are clean to the eye, but anything that is visible in jewelry should at least be visible in both gems. If a pair comes from the same mine-run, one can actually find beauty in combining identical types of visible inclusions: individual, charming and easy on the budget (think rutilated topaz in a pair).
Ruby on Photo
To judge ruby on photo I dare to separate them in two main characters:
With this short-cut, we will be able to extract some basic rules for an otherwise unmanageable multitude of ruby varieties.
Such a ruby can vary from fire engine (red-red) to rose red (add some purple) to an earthy crimson red (add some brown). Highest prices are paid for fire engine red, with rose red and then crimson following. Brownish brick red rubies shall be rather reasonable.
Pictures: Three famous ruby colors in mild hues
|Traffic Light||Rose Red||Crimson|
Rule 1: Insist on at least one image with light in the back.
Mild colored ruby will easily hide inclusions from the camera. Make sure the image does not only focus on the surface of the stone. A mild ruby needs an image with light falling in from the back of the gem. This will show you inclusions with all honesty.
Pictures: Mild colored rubies in front of daylight
Many images on the web are "front-loaded". They show only the surface of the gem but not the inside. This is done to peddle translucent, or even opaque, cabochon quality as facet grade ruby.
Rule 2: Mild colored ruby needs clarity.
Heavily included ruby in mild colors looks dull in person. The value of such cabochon quality corundum is low in comparison to transparent ruby (unless it displays a star ruby of course).
The scarcity of good material has somewhat lowered the bar to what is labeled as facet-quality ruby. A translucent or opaque mild ruby might look OK on the photo, but the stone will be boring in person and have zero luster. No good.
Ruby is by nature more included than, say, tourmaline. You will only get a "free of inclusion" if you have very deep pockets. However, some inclusions are wanted, while others are to be avoided.
Picture: Burmese Ruby with rare "Free of Inclusions"
Finest silky needle structures are delightful, shattering light rays into a hypnotic gleam. Thicker needles are interesting under the lens and do little harm to beauty.
Less attractive, and hence price reducing, are whitish clouds, visible black spots, growth lines with weak color zones or broken crystals.
Rule 3: See inclusions but imagine glow and luster.
While mild ruby will swallow its inclusions, it will also hide its luster and no high-end camera can change that. However, even the worst cut ruby has luster as long as it is clean. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to capture this on photo.
Hence, in mild ruby photos, you need to be picky with inclusions but may be generous with luster and radiance.
A pleasant mild ruby will never disappoint as long as it is clean.
Picture: Mogok ruby in sunlight
Such a ruby will always catch your attention. It will stand out, even in a shop window loaded with other gemstones. They are the masters of the red universe. No other material (man-made or natural) can beat them. Some flowers come close, but of course they lack fire and glow.
Rule 1: The three most important qualities of a wild ruby are color, color and color.
Wild Burmese rubies have been worshipped for millennia. They are the fame of
Rule 2: Best wild rubies separate violet and purple from red
The magic of ruby comes from the ruby-only ability to mingle blue/violet into red and then set it aflame in radiation. Some pink and purple sapphires can do the same trick (see below) but red spinel never does.
In straight sunlight many good wild rubies will show themselves more like a blob of red gleam. Though this is a sign for a good gem, it is not enough. With light intensity reduced to a manageable amount, blue/violet and purple will separate from the red. This might look like color-zones, but it is exactly what you want: A digital separation of blue/violet from red (with purple and pink in-between) is the best indicator for intense red ruby.
Picture: A strong color can make up for a "Moderately Included"
For wild rubies inclusions are only a secondary concern. Color is king. A neon ruby can easily be moderately included without looking dull. Even in translucent material a neon red is still very attractive and many budgets will be limited to more or less included material. Translucent rubies are OK as long as the color is extra terrific and the price right.
Rule 3: A fine wild ruby never holds still on an image.
Something always seems to be moving in them. Often it looks as if a flickering fire or a hot swirling fluid is caught in the gem. As if there is something alive in them - now, if that is not wild!
Pictures: Best rubies have "inner life" and split purpel/violet from red
Rule 4: Beware of digital enhancement
Since color is half the rent, some are tempted to "improve" their pictures for the web. Avoid "super bargains", plastic-like hues, and check the photos background: It shall be neutral and real (the gem should not be "cut-and-pasted" into a new background). Light conditions shall be normal (mixed light, filtered sunlight). Tungsten light alone is not enough. Ask for images in different light settings and angles. One can't easily repeat a faked or stolen photo in variations.
Pictures: Common digital tricks in ruby images
|"Front-loaded" image hides inclusions; Pinkish background indicates digital color enhancement||Extreme (artificial) hue for $199/carat too good to be true|
Sapphire vs Ruby
Regularly discussed is the line between pink/purple sapphire and ruby. Yes, pink is a pale red but only what is independently certified as ruby can be sold as ruby. All else is wishful thinking of the seller. Period.
You may trust a third party laboratory to draw the line between red and pink. They are professionals, have no stake in the classification and will not risk their jobs for favors.
Rich purple or hot pink sapphires can be as extra terrestrially glowing as ruby. Here
|Rich Hot Pink||Electric Pink||Intense Hot Pink|
|Electric Pinkish Purple||Rich Reddish Purple||Rich Pinkish Purple|
Titanite: The master of fire
We define Titanite as sphene from
Sphenes from other origins (Africa, Russia and others) are mainly green with some yellow. Vanadium Sphene is the green master of all sparklers but a rare find.
With dispersion higher than that of diamond and a rainbow of colors, Titanites are a must-see for anybody who loves fiery gemstones. Especially in candle light they are gemstone mystic pure. Even a half carat will turn heads.
Titanites are not as tough as diamond or sapphire hence they can't be worn while free-climbing.
However, there is zero risk of scratching them in earrings at a dinner party (not unless your date is Hannibal Lecter).
We have set quite a few Titanites in protective rings and pendants and they all stand their ground in daily use:
Titanite on photo:
Given their affordability and the spectacle they offer, Titanites are a simply terrific deal.
Unfortunately our contact to the Pakistani mine (build up in the relative calm of 2007) has defaulted so we are not able to predict future availability or prices at this time (07/08).
Spinels come in a vast variety of colors, but are not as confusing as the garnet family. The most famous colors in spinel are blue and red, but one will find fine purple, violet, orange, pink, mauve, or black spinel. They also come with stars and color changes but have not yet gained much attention. What dignifies all spinel is their excellent luster and durability for jewelry.
It appears that in recent years spinel has made it from a sometimes hardly distinguishable, sapphire-substitute to a variety standing on its own. Thus they do not come cheap anymore. Even our remotest miners have started to distinguish spinel as better than other 'non-sapphire-gems' and thus have started to ask much higher prices. However, they are still a comparatively reasonable alternative to ruby or blue sapphire. The less known varieties of spinel (purple, mauve, etc.) offer not only superb visual experiences but are most likely also a good investments in the long run.
Spinel on photo:
As one can see above: No problem! Like sapphire spinel are quite photogenic. They do not deceive in color or luster and are a grateful object for exquisite images. As all gems they are sensitive with inclusions in the lighter tones only.
Danburite: Poor photo show but great IRL
Danburites do not compute well on photos. They are unforgiving with inclusions, tend to catch even the faintest background color, display windows merciless and are a generally ungrateful lot on photo.
This said, Danburite has a relatively low refractive index and will not easily sparkle as much as you would wish in a colorless gem. Optimized for brilliancy they will shine but not disperse light as diamond or, to some extend, white sapphire do.
So far we have not heard of any treatment in Danburite. If they come treated they will probably be diffused into some unnaturally intense color and easy to spot.
Colored danburite, yellow, brown, green, are a collector rarity and come mostly from Burma.
Green grossular garnets (of which Tsavorite is the more famous) truly are a "new" gem since their discovery has been quite recently (in geological time frames). Tsavorite are the most expensive garnets in the market (besides Russian demantoid perhaps).
They are found mostly in small sizes. A three carat Tsavorite is considered a giant. Most found are below one carat but even the smallest Tsavorite is far from humble. Brighter, mint green, tsavorites are also called 'merelani garnets', from the mining area Merelani.
The very best are shocking green and size doesn't matter. They are like a volcano of extraterrestrial green, and if you want a modest gemstone green garnets are probably not right for you.
They do have good luster too, but color is most important. Like in emerald, inclusions are no killer-criteria as long as the color is not affected. Hence a colorless inclusion may be tolerable but we wouldn't want brown zircon crystals.
Tsavorite on photo: Difficult but GREEN
They tend to look darker than they actually are, and often black-out. This may be a result of their unique dense hue. It is possible to throw so much photo-technology and light at them that they loose all blackout but then they also loose their individual character and start too look all alike.
This said one might distinguish between an intense metallic green and a more alarm-color "venomous" green. The latter being a more earthy color one might expect in a poisonous coral fish and the former being without parallel in nature.
See our green garnets.
Pyrope is typically described as blood or wine-red, while his name refers to the Greek word for "fire".
Though pyrope does not have what one calls "fire" in a diamond it is definitely as red as it gets and reminds of glowing coal. How red is that?
In case you are familiar with Spanish wine you might have a look at a Senior de Los Lamos '67, which will cost you much more than buying a pyrope, but tastes better (pyrope does not). You might also take blood samples from your neighbor's ox, but that too might not be a particular practical. It is said that once upon a time pyrope has been more popular and much higher priced. Today pyrope is, behind the almandine, the best deal if one wants a red-red gem of significant size without selling his family.
Pyrope on photo: Pyrope typically shows blackish areas and little luster on photos. Their color gets across well, but they usually tend to show more orange or brown than they actually have. Darker pyropes simply refuse to be photographed yet look good in person. They are a fine color-bargain to hunt for.
See our pyropes.
Some gemologists call it a "treacly" or 'swirly' appearance, which comes from inclusions that actually look like a petrified fluid. Hessonite is a wonderful stone in all yellow-orange to brown-red hues. Though not in line with the standard scientific gemology literature, I find hessonite in all red garnet colors from a fiery orange to alomost a simply traffic light red. In any event they make exquisite colored gemstones and are a true miracle when seen under the lens.
Hessonite on photo: Though hessonite is wonderful to look at they struggle with serious problems in front of the camera. Unfortunately 'treacly' transfers on a photo to 'fuzzy'. One needs to experience a hessonite live to be able to capture the information hidden in a photo. As a rule, concentrate on the color and blend out the fuzziness of the photo. If you like the color you will have to test the luster in person.
See our hessonites.
Almandine is the most common garnet variety in
Almandine on photo: The needle structure in almandine tends to look a bit fizzy on photos. Nevertheless almandines are a pleasure to shot - they glimmer and sparkle in fine red tones and transfer well on images. Like pyrope, almandine color usually does not vary much between with day or tungsten light. Also like pyrope they tend to show black-out areas which are not as dark as they seem in reality.
See our almandines.
Rhodolite and raspberry are red garnet with strong pink and/or purple hue. Both are characterized by their color and one will find different definitions over time and literature. However, if almandine and pyrope are wine & blood, raspberry and rhodolite are berry & flowers. They are mixtures of pyrope and almandine in different relations.
They are the best deal in town for progressive color adventures. Both have excellent luster and a "juicy" color play that often mocks any description in plain words. Truly appetizing colors: Grading them sometimes makes me want to rush to the market to see whether I can find some berries.
Rhodolite and raspberry on photos: Both stones can be miraculous and nerve-wrecking in front of the camera. They are the chameleons amongst gemstones. We have seen many furious discussions between photographer and grader about what is the "real" color.
Truth seems to be that there is no truth. But that doesn't matter much because these stones always excel their photos. Other than e.g. with sapphire one can not make a photo too good when in comes to a raspberry and rhodolite.
Color changing garnets are an exquisite rarity (and I mean rarity) in
On the other side, one must ask why shall a beautifully changing garnet have only 10% of the value of a dully changing pale alexandrite? That of course is a complex question of market mechanism. If one simply admires the magic of color change he might forget alexandrite (and sapphire) and hunt the last color change garnets before the deposits are depleted.
African garnets have produced blue-green to purple, blue to red and yellow to green color changes. Fantastic!
Color-Change on Photo: Catching color change on photos is one of the trickiest tasks in gemstone photography. This counts not only for garnet, but also for all color changers. It is so tricky, that I can only warn of too good looking but cheap color changers.
A color change that is fully visible on photo without photoshoptricks is truly rare and will never be cheap (at least not in natural stones). Buying two carat 100% color changer on EBay for two dollar is like ordering a Mercedes Maybach for the price of a bicycle. No complaints about dishonest sellers please!
See our color change garnets.
Zircon has suffered much bad PR due to synthetic stones with the trade name "Cubic Zirconia". In addition to this the use of zircon as a cheap diamond rip-off has led many people to believe that zircon is synthetic, or some kind of fake.
Zircon is amongst the most brilliant of all colored gemstone (only thus he was misused as an imitation for diamonds). His brilliance and luster is unbeatable and his high birefringence is terrific. Naturally colored zircon can be (expensive) green, yellow, brown, (mostly treated) blue, (costly) red and always (treated) colorless.
In any color zircons show a stunning fire and magnificent luster. Mostly very clean and found in good sizes zircon is a yet little known opportunity for novice collectors and experimental jewelry makers. They offer adorable colors and excellent luster for every budget. A light yellow zircon is nearly as fascinating as a fancy diamond.
Zircon on photo: As a rule, zircons are even better than their images. The birefringence of zircon is so strong that he is difficult to photograph clearly. The lines and edges on the back may seem blurred (double refracted) or 'un-sharp' but that is a good sign meaning more fire and brilliancy in person. In fact, they are often so brilliant that they seem to simply mirror light on the image. The strong luster of zircon is rather hindering for the color show and when it comes to zircons, one shall rather trust the seller than the photo.
(This can be said as a general rule: Don't buy gems based on photos but on the reputation of the seller and with the security of his return policy. It is not a pleasant shopping experience if you get a bad stone with a super photo that can't be returned.)
See our zircons.
Unfortunately, we do not get many aquamarines in
Fine aquamarines come from Africa and also Brazil. Neon pool blue-green! Must see, and also cat's eye aquamarines.
Aquamarine on photo: Light colored stones are notoriously difficult to capture. Especially in stones of good luster the light thrown back out of the stones tends to override the stone's color. Hence even if an aquamarine has a solid clearly visible blue hue he might in the photo show to be nearly colorless. Light colors also take inclusions much more serious on the photo than in reality. Again, trust the seller not the photo.
See our aquamarines.
Amethyst is very popular purple-violet quartz. It is available in fine colors and good sizes but does not demand high prices. A lot of amethyst is burned into citrine but the original stone is much more attractive. In fact, seen in color/price relation amethyst might compete with purple garnets.
The deep purple cross-over to violet is just delicious. Amethyst is probably the only gemstone variety one can collect buying only the best "excellent" stones on a moderate price. Rough amethyst is big and leaves space for precision cuts.
See our amethyst.
Tourmaline is the most versatile gemstone family. Not only do they show themselves in all colors from brown to pink, but they are also famous for bi- tri- and multicolored varieties, and rare color changers.
Turning a bi- or tri-colored tourmaline in the sun and watching his playfully change between reddish brown, yellowish green and mellow orange is most delightful!
Pure green tourmaline is a very thankful alternative to emerald and is thus often cut in baguettes and emerald shape. Tourmaline comes in good sizes, is clean and often used as healing stone. We predict that tourmaline will gain more fame after the recent run for flashy colors has settled.
Tourmaline on photo: Mono-colored tourmaline does not cause any problems in front of the camera. His color comes out realistic and they are not too light sensitive. Multicolored stones (showing different colors in different zones) are also no challenge. But things get more difficult when it comes to bi- or tri-colored stones. Sometimes it is possible to capture all colors in one angle. But more frequently the photographer gets sore fingers and a heart attack before he leaves it to the grader to describe the color play in words.
Natural untreated topaz in full colors are rarely available, and a lot of consumers buy all kinds of cheap synthetics, citrine or treated and irradiated stones under the name "so-and-so-topaz".
This has led to much confusion and a devaluation of the original untreated topaz. However, naturally colored topaz is an exquisite rarity and a true collector's item. Colorless topaz (which is often taken to be radiated into blue) is a reasonable alternative to white sapphire and a good place to start a collection.
Big white topaz are great material for precision cuts and most attractive.
The light blue stones we find in
Yellow, golden or pinkish topaz (the famous "imperial" topaz) are the most expensive of the family. Most come from Brazil and must be tested for treatments.
Topaz on photo: Bright naturally colored topaz is notoriously difficult for the camera. Topaz with their light colors outshine themselves and (like aquamarine) tend to look colorless even if the eye clearly captures a nice if tender color. In any case an untreated light blue topaz is a terrific stone with a dazzling luster surpassing many much higher priced stones. Fully colored topaz on photo is either heavily treated or heavily photo-shopped. If not, it will cost a good deal.
See our topaz.
Chrysoberyl is yet another continent to discover. The famous color changing alexandrite is a sub-variety of chrysoberyl. Normal
Vanadium Chrysoberyl is a rare specialty even amongst collectors, found in colors from mint to neon green.
The fabulous chrysoberyl cat's eye is another miracle in the world of gemstones. Fine parallel needles throughout the stone break light in a way that the stone displays a ray moving across the stone. While garnets, quartz and other varieties might show the same effect, only chrysoberyl is correctly referred to as the cat's eye. Basic parameters to judge the ray is his definition (full and clear?), position (centered?) and his movement (flawless?) across the stone. See our section on stars for more details.
Chrysoberyl on photo: While faceted chrysoberyl is easy to capture, a cat's eye needs a strong single light source to display the ray. This is difficult without changing the color of the stone in the yellow tungsten light. Therefore when buying cat's eye on the web, one should also pay attention to the 'official' color description and grading.
Kornerupine is a fine new opportunity for the collector of natural colors. Until recently quasi non-existent in the gem market, kornerupine has now found attention as a nice untreated gemstone in very unique hues: From mellow green mingled with yellowish and brown tints to forest green.
Depending on the cut some stones show different colors from different angels but they are not as unpredictable as tourmaline (with which they are often confused). Though kornerupine has entered the gem market only recently, we have so far always received positive feed back from those who ventured to buy this unknown variety.
Kornerupine on photo: Similar to other green stones kornerupine likes to be photographed and does neither show too good nor too bad. When it comes to his pleochroic effects, things get more difficult but since we usually try and cut him into one color, this has not been of much trouble to us.
See our kornerupine.
Though soft, diopside has raised some attention from jewelry makers for his strong but reasonable priced green hues. Chrome diopside has actually become quite famous and expensive for his emerald green.
However it is soft and has to be protected in jewelry. In
See our diopside.
Both websites will easily bring you into the world of gems, the first one from the view of a gemologist, the latter more from the position of the trade.
To join the growing number of gem collectors on the internet we recommend:
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