- All about gemstones

Loose Gemstones - A Unique Expression

Customize Your Own Jewelry Designs

Colored gemstone jewelry has been popular for centuries. Many of the familiar gem varieties, such as ruby, sapphire, garnet, peridot and jade, have been available and used since ancient times. Prior to the evolving studies of gemological science, many gem types were not recognized as being their own distinct species. Spinel specimens were often confused with ruby and sapphire, and it was only identified recently within the late 19th century. Upon identification, spinel became a distinguished species based on its gemological properties. In 1862, Jade gemstones were recognized as having been composed two separate distinct species: jadeite and nephrite.

More than 100 different colored gemstone varieties are offered in the market today, but most typical jewelry retail establishments carry and stock jewelry in a only fraction of available gem types, such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, blue topaz, garnet, tanzanite, opal and aquamarine. The reason that jewelry retailers stock only a small number of colored gemstones is due to the fact that many gem varieties are simply too scarce and the demand too much, therefore the supply is simply not enough in order to supply the retail channel. Natural spinel, for example, is one of the top favorite gem types among gem dealers, prized for its superb brilliance and fire. But spinel is very rarely found in retail brick and mortar jewelry stores, due to the extreme shortage of supply. You are also very unlikely to find natural zircon, tsavorite and spessartite garnet varieties, alexandrite, chrome tourmaline or rubellite tourmaline in retail outlets.

However, the lack of variety in jewelry retail shops isn't the only reason to source your own loose gems from a specialized independent gemstone supplier. In fact, the quality of precious colored gemstones used in commercial jewelry can be quite low, even in high priced jewelry bought from reputable jewelers. This is because that the retailer's focus is primarily on the jewelry itself, not on the gemstone. Although they may stock ruby rings, the rubies may be fracture-filled African ruby, rather than premium grade Burmese ruby. The reality brought forth by the gem trade is that very few jewelry retailers could produce a line of ruby rings with fine rubies, simply because it is too difficult to source quality rubies in order to mass produce hundreds of ruby rings.

If you want to buy top grade natural gems, especially if you are interested in untreated gems, you will find much more success consulting a specialized gemstone trader. Since the gemstone dealer's stock is much larger than any given jewelry retailer, you will have a much greater assortment of colors, cuts and sizes to select from. Many gemstone dealers will offer certification, by request, from recognized gemological laboratories for any of the gemstones on offer. Most jewelry retailers will certify diamonds, but typically they will not certify colored gemstones.

Most experienced colored gem buyers favor buying loose gems over those that have been preset in jewelry. Reason being is that most types of jewelry settings can easily hide external and internal gemstone inclusions and the setting itself can even change the color of a gemstone. Valuable gemstones should always be evaluated before they have been mounted, and all gemological labs prefer to do their testing on loose gemstones.

Finally, when you choose to buy your own high quality loose gemstone for a custom designed piece of jewelry, both the gemstone and the jewelry setting are an expression of your own unique and personal style. By creating your own unique and one-a-kind jewelry design, you create something special that you can hand down from generation to generation, which in itself is a rewarding and sentimental experience not to be missed.