The Jewelry Insider

July 10, 2010

How to pick the right gemstone for you

Whether you’re a newcomer to the gem world looking to add color to your
wardrobe, or a veteran gemstone wearer fine-tuning your look, finding the right
gemstone jewelry is a key way to express your own personal style, uplift your
appearance and spirit, and convey to others what you’re all about. But this
doesn’t have to be a grueling decision. Here are some practical tips for
selecting gemstone jewelry that works best for you.

Developing Your Own Style

First of all, any gemstone jewelry you select must be comfortable. For instance,
make sure necklaces hang at the “right” length for you and lay well around your
neck. Experts offer similar advice for earrings: with dangling styles, make sure
they hang at a comfortable length, fit well against the ear and don’t tip
forward. Likewise, bracelets and rings should fit comfortably and shouldn’t
slide off with a simple shake of your arm or hand.

Next, the jewelry must be appropriate for your personality and lifestyle. A
glitzy necklace that would dazzle for a night out on the town probably wouldn’t
work for someone with a more casual outlook. Intent is important. Are you
looking for a fashion accessory to match certain outfits, a particular
season/event or a specific function, such as jewelry for work? Or are you
looking for a piece you will wear everyday? Obviously, things like fashion,
price, versatility, durability and other factors will play differing roles in
your buying decision, based on your intent.

As for which color best suits you, one way to determine this is to take stock
of what’s already in your closet. What clothing styles, colors, materials,
lengths, etc. are most prevalent? This will give you important clues about the
specific gemstone jewelry that will work best for you. In addition, look at your
makeup, scarves, hair accessories, and current jewelry for more cues about the
jewelry colors and styles most appropriate for you.

Finally, consider your physical features: body type, face shape, finger/hand
length and width, hair/eye color, complexion and other characteristics. These
factors also will play a key role in determining which gemstone jewelry will
look best on you.

Seeking Quality

Once you’ve got the style down, you want to be assured of the quality of any
piece you’re interested in buying. Keep in mind that quality determines the
value of a stone. Like diamonds, gemstones are judged by the “Four Cs” of color,
clarity, cut and carat weight, with color the most important consideration, by
far. The better the color, the higher the price. Better clarity and better cut
also cost more – and generally, the larger the stone, the more it will cost per
carat. Even to an untrained eye, many of these kinds of differences can be seen
when similar stones are examined side-by-side.

Other factors that may influence the price of a gemstone include whether it
is readily available on the market or subject to supply limitations; whether
it’s a “hot” color or stone right now, or for various reasons may be unpopular;
whether it’s a single stone or part of a matched set, particularly in special
shapes or cuts; and sometimes, its origin (for every stone, there is a
particular location known for producing the finest quality variety of that stone
– and often, you’ll pay more for a stone from that prized region because of its
reputation).

But quality extends beyond simply examining the stone. You need to pay
special attention to the setting, as well. Make sure the metal holds the stone
firmly and squarely in place. Check prongs to make sure they are tight and
sturdy. Look at the finish – is the metal well-polished with no pockmarks or
other imperfections? Also, turn the piece around and examine the back – a
well-made piece of jewelry will have a good finish on both front and back. If
the piece is gold, check for a karatage stamp, as well as a company trademark
stamp. This means the company is standing behind the product and assuring you
the karatage is as stated. As for bracelets or necklaces, check the clasps, as
well. A quality piece of gemstone jewelry will have sturdy, quality clasps.

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