The more you ask a seller about their jewelry or gem stones the better prepared you will be to bid on or purchase the item with confidence. The world of gems and semi-precious gemstones can be very confusing to the buyer, as an experienced jewelry design hobbyist I have even been mislead. When a piece of jewelry or loose stones are offered for sale or auction the size, shape, quality, and weight should be listed. If a seller does not offer information on the materials used, ASK!!
The 4 C's, Cut - Clarity - Color & Carat, have been heavily promoted by the diamond industry, but all of these terms can not be easily applied to most of the semi-precious gem or gemstone beaded jewelry. Semi-precious stones tend to range from translucent to completely opaque. The translucent stones can sometimes be described the same way as diamonds but these descriptions are not held to the same standards as for a diamond. The opaque stone should be graded, but grading stone is very subjective and one gemologist's idea of AAA Grade might be classified by another as A Grade.
A customer's BEST DEFENSE against the confusion is to ask the seller any question about the piece. Here are some examples:
What is the size of the gemstone(s) in millimeters (mm)?
What is the overall size of the jewelry item?
Pictures on your monitor can be misleading. Digital photography allows for some very crisp & clear close-up views of a piece but not all sellers give you a perspective relative to the size of the gemstones or jewelry piece. As well, your own monitor size and resolution will affect how you see the items up for bib. Having a small ruler with both inches and metric markings with you can be helpful as you are viewing items. Most semi-precious stones and gems when sold to the jewelry maker are measured in millimeters and they should have this information readily available. Most completed jewelry pieces sold in the USA will be measured overall in inches.
Has the stone been treated or is it natural?
Natural stones can be exquisitely beautiful but tend to be expensive for the best grade stones. Treatments can enhance the beauty some stones while keeping their cost down. BE CAREFUL certain treatments may make a stone more appealing to look at, but sometimes these treatments wear off. Dyeing a stone to enhance the color, change the color, hide a flaw, or have one stone mimic another is very common, but most dyes rub off and can stain skin or clothing. A better method of color enhancement is heating or irradiation, once a stone is subjected to high temperatures or electron bombardment the color change becomes permanent. Oiling is used to fill in surface cavities, but again this can wear off. Bonding, infilling, or stabilization is more durable. If a stone or gems does not state that it natural or genuine it may have been enhance or if you do not know what a term means ask the seller to clarify.
What is the total weight of the stones?
What is the total stone count?
Semi-precious stones are weighed both in carats (C) and grams (g). It is the preferance of the seller on which if any that they use. An easy conversion for :
carats to grams is to multiply the carat weight by 0.20 grams ex. 5 C X 0.20 g = 1 gram
grams to carats is to multiply the gram weight by 5 carats ex. 2 g X 5 C = 10 carats
The total weight divided by the stone count will help you determine the average individual stone weight.
Are there any visible imperfections?
If a piece of jewelry has very low starting bid there may be a flaw to it, a chip or scar that may not show up in the picture of the item or the sellers description. Still a stone may have imperfections that do not detract from it's beauty. A skillful jewelry artist may be able to take an inexpensive stone and mount it in such a way that the stone's flaw(s) is hidden. If in doubt ask the seller to e-mail you more pictures preferable from several angles including the underside or back of the peice.
What materials are the gems set, mounted, or stung on?
This is really a personal preferance on the buyers part, here are some definitions to help you determine the quality versus price:
Karat - the pureness of gold 24 KT is pure gold, 10 KT is 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts other metals, not to be confused with carat weight.
Vermeil - heavy electroplating of gold over sterling silver.
Gold filled - is made by applying multiple layers of karat gold over a base metal it is commonly abbreviated as gf, ex. 14 K GF = 14 Karat gold filled.
Gold plated - electroplate base metal cover with between 0.15 mils to 0.25 mils of gold, common abbreviation as GP.
Fine or Pure Silver - must have a minimum silver content of 99.9% usually written as .999 silver. Pure silver is softer but does not tarnish as easily as sterling silver.
Sterling Silver - 92.5% pure silver, 7.5% copper or other alloys, common abbreviation SS . This is sturdier than pure silver but will tarnish over time especially if not polished after wearing.
Silver plated - electroplated base metal covered with between 0.15 mils to 0.25 mils of sterling silver.
Silk - natural silk thread this allows the beads to drape along the contours of the body.
Nylon - a synthetic material thread that can mimic silk but does not have the strength of silk.
Beading wire or Tiger Tail - is metal wire that has been coated with nylon, great for heavier stones, but tends to be stiffer than silk or nylon thread
Here are some of my favorite gems and stones:
Agate : part of the chalcedony quartz family of minerals, most common light gray-blue to beige or reddish to brown layers of color but also available dyed green, moss, orange, dark reds, and mixed colors, hardness 6.5 - 7, the alternative birthstone for September and May.
Amber : an organic fossil resin from amber pine sap, usually yellow to reddish brown in color, hardness 2 - 2.5.
Amethyst : part of the quartz family of minerals, usually light to dark violet in translucent colors, hardness 7, the tradition, modern, and alternative birthstone for February.
Aquamarine : part of the beryl family of minerals, usually light blue to sea green in translucent colors, hardness 7.5 - 8, the modern birthstone for March , and the alternative birthstone for October.
Aventurine : part of the quartz family of minerals, usually shimmering greens in color and occasionally orange-brown orange-yellow is often called sunstone, hardness 7.
Carnelian : part of the chalcedony quartz family of minerals, usually yellow-orange to reddish brown in translucent colors, hardness 6.5 - 7, the alternative birthstone for July.
Citrine : part of the silicon dioxide quartz family of minerals, usually yellow to golden brown in color, hardness 7, the tradition and modern birthstone for November.
Coral : an organic marine creature's skeleton, usually pink, salmon, red, white, and black in color hardness, 3 - 4.
Emerald : part of the beryl family of minerals, usually light to dark greens in color, hardness 7 - 8, the tradition and modern birthstone for May and the alternative birthstone for January.
Falcon’s Eye : part of the quartz family of minerals, usually a luster of blue-green, blue-black to blue-gray in layers, hardness 7, sometimes mislabeled as blue tigereye.
Fluorite : a common sedimentary rock, usually a rainbow of translucent layers of color, hardness 4, great for naturally mimicking other translucent stones but lacks the depth of color and hardness of the more expensive gems.
Garnet : usually medium to dark red or wine colored, occasionally available in yellow, pink, and black, hardness 7 - 7.5, the tradition, modern, and alternative birthstone for January.
Goldstone : actually a man made glass bead with real gold suspended in the glass, most commonly made in golden browns but sometimes available in blues and other colors.
Hematite : is an iron ore, usually a shiny metallic gray-black to reddish brown in color, hardness 5.5 -6.5.
Howlite : a borate and evaporite mineral, use to imitate other stones since it takes to dying very readily, natural color white with black veins or flecks, ALWAYS check with the buyer if a stone says ‘gemstone name’ colored the item may be dyed howlite a relatively inexpensive stone.
Jade : usually light to dark green in color and very occasionally pink, violet, yellow, and black, hardness 6.5 - 7, use caution ‘mountain’ jade is not jade but dolomite marble a less costly stone, the alternative birthstone for March and July.
Jasper : a common sedimentary rock and part of the quartz family of minerals, usually yellow to reddish brown in color sometimes speckled on a black background or with gray-black markings occasionally available in greens, blues, and golden colors, hardness 7, the alternative birthstone for October.
Lapis Lazuli : relatively rare mineral, usually light blue, azure blue, and violet-blue with gold or silver specks in color, hardness 5 - 6, the alternative birthstone for September and December.
Malachite : a less common sedimentary rock, usually a shimmering light to dark green in colored layers, red malachite is actually banded jasper a less costly stone, hardness 3.5 - 4.
Moonstone : part of the volcanic feldspar family of minerals, usually egg shell to whitish blue in semi-translucent colors occasionally available in opalescent peach or gray, hardness 6 - 6.5, the tradition and modern birthstone for June, and alternative birthstone for February and September.
Obsidian : part of the volcanic family of minerals, usually golden browns to rich blacks sometimes with white spots in color layers, hardness 5.5.
Peridot : part of the volcanic silicate family of minerals, usually yellow-green to olive green in translucent colors, hardness 6.5 - 7, the modern birthstone for August.
Quartz : the most common and largest mineral family on earth, available in a rainbow of translucent colors each with their own name; crystal quartz = clear, sky quartz = pale blue, rose quartz = pale pink, cherry quartz = bright hot pink to light red, smoky quartz = light gray, snow quartz = pure white, etc., hardness 7, crystal quartz is the alternative birthstone for April, rose quartz is the alternative birthstone for December, and other colors of quartz are the alternative birthstone for March .
Ruby : part of the corundum family of minerals, usually light to deep red in color, hardness 9, the tradition and modern birthstone for July and the alternative birthstone for July and December.
Sapphire : part of the corundum family of minerals, usually blue, green, yellow, and purple-black in color, hardness 9, the tradition and modern birthstone for September and the alternative birthstone for May and August.
Sodalite : part of the volcanic family of minerals and relatively rare, usually light to dark blue with white to gray spots in color, hardness 5 - 6, easily mistaken for lapis lazuli but costs less.
Tigereye or Tiger’s Eye : part of the quartz family of minerals, usually yellow to golden brown in shimmering bands of color, hardness 6.5 - 7, the alternative birthstone for November.
Topaz : usually yellow to golden yellow, occasionally pale blues, and rarely light pinks in color, hardness 8, yellow topaz is the modern and alternative birthstone for November, blue topaz is the modern birthstone for February.
Tourmaline : a rare part of the silicate family of minerals, available in a rainbow of colors the depth of color is darker and richer than fluorite, hardness 7 - 7.5, the tradition, modern, and alternative birthstone for October.
Turquoise : part of the phosphate family of minerals, usually pale sky blue to deep blue-green sometimes with dark bands or specks in color, hardness 5 - 6, the tradition and modern birthstone for December.
Unakite : mix of the feldspar and the epidote families of minerals, named after the Unaka Mountains near Tennessee and North Carolina, usually green with reddish pink specks and streaks in the color, hardness 6 - 7, referred to as epidote in holistic healing.
The Mohs hardness scale 1 the softest (soapstone) to 10 the hardest (diamond) used to rate the degrees of hardness of minerals and gems. The scale can help determine the quality or the stone’s country of origin. This information is not readily available and must be lab confirmed, so it is mostly reserved for larger more valuable specimens. Since testing can be damaging in nature it should be done before the stones are shaped. There is now a modified version of the Mohs scale 1 the softness (talc) to 15 the hardest (diamond) also in use so ASK the seller to clarify which of the scales they are using.
Thank You, for reading my advice. I look forward to hearing your questions at My EBAY store.