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Do You Like the Color?

Interestingly, colored gemstones are not graded or evaluated in the same way that diamonds are! They have their own set of standards. The most important thing to consider when choosing a colored gemstone is…do you like the color? Yes, it is as simple as that! Do you like the color of the gemstone? I know, I know, a little anticlimactic, but it is the truth! I have worked with many clients at gemstone roundtables where various colored gemstones are passed around and the client gets to pick her or his favorite. And the choices are varied!



There is science and allocation when it comes to colored gemstone grading from The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which I learned in my training to become a Graduate Gemologist. Colored gemstones are evaluated in three main ways. Hue, tone, and saturation.


Hue: Hue is the first impression of color you get from the gemstone. Is it red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple? Obviously, there are many hues that mix those colors, but we start with the most dominate and basic color. From there, we move to questions like, is it fully red, or does it have an orange or purple color mixture? If so, to what degree does it have that mixture, very strongly, strongly, slightly, or very slightly? For instance, a garnet can be strongly purplish red!


Tone: Tone refers to how light or dark the color is. There are 11 stages of lightness to dark, but GIA grades gemstones in the middle 7 of them. Very light, light, medium light, medium, medium dark, dark, and very dark. I have seen blue sapphires that were so dark they looked black! Usually, the jewelry industry favors the medium tones for most gemstones.


Saturation:Saturation can be a bit harder to understand. Saturation refers to purity or intensity of the color. It’s easy mix it up with tone, but it is actually about how strong or vivid the color is not light or dark. When a warmer gemstone, like ruby or garnet has a low saturation, you will see a degree of brown in the gemstone. It was an ah-ha moment when I learned that brown is not a color but low saturation of color! When the gemstone color is cooler, like sapphire or amethyst, you will see a degree of grey in the gemstone when it has low saturation.


What about clarity and cut of a colored gemstone? For the most part, clarity and cut characteristics don’t affect a gemstone because the color is more prominent, so it doesn’t play a big role as it does in diamonds. Most importantly, you have to connect with the color of your gemstone. While a medium tone is valued more, you may like a lighter or darker tone. It’s all about the color that speaks to you!


I would love to help you with your colored gemstone, special purchase, or custom design! Angela Cisneros Jewelry Concierge brings back the joy and confidence of jewelry shopping, so that you can celebrate with ease! My by-appointment approach means:

  • One-on-one appointments (personal attention and no crowds!)

  • Discretion and privacy (surprises remain surprises!)

  • Expert help from a Graduate Gemologist with 24 years of experience (yep, that’s me!)

Book your FREE appointment with me today! www.angelacisneros.com/book-appointment


Photo Credit: Omi Prive

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