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Gem and Precious Stone Guide

The precious gems we choose for our custom, handmade engagement rings should reflect careful consideration. After all, this is the focal point of the ring, and often, it is the most expensive part as well.

When choosing your centre piece, and any possible accents, keep in mind if we choose well, this ring could easily be passed down to our kids and even our grandkids. However, if we choose hastily or ignorantly, it may not even last 10 years before it will look too beat up to wear out in public.

I offer a great solution for fake diamond rings. If you can’t afford the real thing, I can help!!

We have previously addressed good designs and styles that protect our stones, and have elaborated on the importance of security, but now we need to look at the different options and learn what characteristics to watch for.

Precious stones come in virtually every shade and colour, as well as in varying degrees of durability and hardness. Because engagement rings are worn day in and day out, year after year, in is very important to choose ones that are too hard to scratch and are resilient against the everyday typical environment we place them in.

Stone Hardness


In the jewelry world we use the mohs scale to compare hardness between different stones. Basically it is a scale from 1-10; where 1 is gypsum (gypsum, known as plaster, is easily marked with the fingernail) and 10 is diamond (the hardest substance on earth). All are then given a number that reflects its relativity between these two opposing stones’ hardness.

To the right is a chart that has some of the precious stones listed with their corresponding hardness (in mohs)mohs-chart.jpg

As we can see from this chart, there are a few choices ranging from 8 – 10 in hardness. These stones with this hardness are IDEAL for everyday wear and tear. This site will focus on these “top 6” stones; however, if you have your heart set on a softer stone, I am not opposed to building with them, as long as you are aware they will scratch and will not last as long as these “top 6”. You can always exercise the option of Trade-in and Upgrade.

My recommendation is:

For more information on the softer stones follow this link to the AGTA website for great insights.

Quality and Pricing of Precious Gems

All precious stones, whether diamonds, sapphires or even idolite, are graded according to certain criteria and are priced accordingly. It is worth noting that just because a stone is graded and priced as a top quality stone, does not automatically make it the right choice for you. Let me explain.

Stones are priced according to supply and demand. If flawless stones were readily available, they would be cheaper than flawed stones… take for example a lab created diamond. A lab created diamond is basically flawless and is cheaper than its flawed natural counterpart, even though they are chemically identical. So we see that just because a stone is expensive, does not mean it is “worth it” for you.

Also true is the criteria in which stones are graded and priced. Here are the criteria :

  • Cut
  • Clarity
  • Carat
  • Colour

I do not want to bore you with technical information, but if you would like to look into this in great detail click on this link to the Gemological Institute of America. Although it is speaking directly about diamonds, the same criteria is applied to coloured gemstones. Also, if you want to skip ahead and read my blerb on How to Choose a Diamond, feel free to click.

Let me explain, briefly what each means and how it is applied to precious stones.

Stone Cut

The cut affects the sparkle of super light see-through stones, and refers to the symmetry and polish of the stone. Most stones are opaque or translucent, and as such, a poor cut often looks as good as an excellent cut. So why pay more for a characteristic that doesn’t give you any tangible payback? Of coarse, with choosing a diamond this is THE most important characteristic, because it determines the “sparkle” factor of your diamond ring.

Colour Clarity

Clarity refers to number and intensity of flaws in a given stone. There can be man-made flaws, such as chips in the stone: or there can be natural flaws: black specks or fissures inside the stone. Depending on the stone, this may not even be an issue- for example, black diamonds are so jet black, that you would never know if it had internal flaws…

Carat Weight

Carat refers to the stones weight. It is often confused with the stones size, but it doesn’t refer to size directly. For example, sapphires are denser (higher specific gravity) and heavier than diamonds; therefore a 1 carat diamond will be larger in size to a 1 carat sapphire. Most gems are sold by weight (carat) , but some are sold by millimetre diameter.


Colour, I feel, is the most important aspect to consider when shopping for gemstones for your custom rings (excluding diamonds, white sapphires and moissanite). I will explain how colour is priced, but ultimately, just because a certain colour is considered a higher quality, don’t buy simply based on quality of colour—buy based on the colour you like!

Coloured stones are priced according to supply (its rarity). If a certain colour occurs rarely in nature, then that coloured stone will be expensive. Take, for example, sapphires; sapphires belong to the corundum family. Sapphires are moderately expensive, but when compared to rubies (also in the corundum family) they are much cheaper. The same is true in regards to hues and saturations of certain colours. Dark blue sapphires are cheaper than crisp translucent blue sapphires.


Caring for your Gems


Here is a great chart showing how different gems should be cleaned and taken care of. Which gems to ultrasonic, and which chemicals can damage your gems.