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Grading in a Nutshell 

Colored Gemstone Grading in a Nutshell


Overall Grade

  • Excellent: Outstanding and flawless in all dimensions. This quality is rarely seen in jewelry and is mostly acquired by collectors or long term investors.
  • Very Good: Above average in all dimensions with one or two minor flaws.
  • Good: Average quality with strengths and weaknesses.
  • Fair: Average quality with one or two obvious flaws.
  • Poor: Major imperfections.


  • Free of Inclusions: No inclusions are visible under a 10fold lens
  • Very Lightly Included: The trained eye perceives inclusions only with the lens and in some light conditions
  • Lightly Included: Only a 10fold lens reveals minor inclusions (not visible to the naked eye, often called "eye clean")
  • Moderately Included: Inclusions are visible to the unaided eye but do not harm the stones beauty (often called "nearly eye clean")
  • Heavily Included: Inclusions are obvious and influence the stones appearance (often called "included")

Color Grade

  • Excellent: Exactly the color everybody wants.
  • Very Good: Attractive and well saturated color. Suitable secondary hue.
  • Good: Fine main color but strong secondary hue. Off-color but charming
  • Fair: Off-Color in this variety, excessive or unsuitable secondary hue and/or much gray
  • Poor: Strongly washed out off-color


  • 0-35 (Very Light to Light): Brightest hues. Bordering to colorless in the extreme (0). The appearance is dominated by luster and clarity, not color. Inclusions are very visible. Mostly desired in yellow, and partly pink.
  • 35-60 (Light-Medium to Medium): Colors are not yet fully saturated but never too dark. Mostly desired in yellow, pink, green and partly blue
  • 60-85 (Medium-Dark): Most varieties are wanted in these tones. Colors are fully developed but not overly dark. For luster to be lively the gem needs a good crystal and cut. Inclusions become less and less visible. Very desired in red, blue, purple and partly green
  • 85-100 (Dark): Gemstones in deepest hue, bordering to black in the extreme (100)


  • Excellent: Innovative cut, mostly precision cutting, especially beautiful and flawless in any dimension. A work of art.
  • Very Good: Flawless in all dimension.
  • Good: Flawless in all but one dimension (say, depth or symmetry)
  • Fair: Flawed in two dimensions (say, depth and symmetry)
  • Poor: Flawed in several dimension typically chipped and scratched surfaces

Read more.

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