Assessing Value of Gems (Part 1)

Assessing Value of Gems

Natural Gems and minerals (and jewellery of course!) are beautiful, intriguing and rare. We all know they hold a certain value and is something that everyone would like to own a piece.

So how do we know what value and how to value a beautiful piece of gem?

First of all, assessing value of gems requires a lot of experience. Experience can come in the form of buying and selling, or learning from the books and history of previous transactions, for example in auctions.

In this 3-part series of assessing value of gems, we will not be showing exactly HOW to assess value. But we will give you an insight on the factors to understand and consider, before you begin to assess the value of the gems.

What gives gems a value? What makes gems valuable?

Gems are valuable because of the following factors:

  • Beauty
  • Rarity
  • Durability
  • Demand
  • Tradition
  • Portability

Beauty

To begin, beauty is the first attribute that we can see with our naked eyes. For most part, the 4Cs have been a big contributor for understanding the beauty of a gem. These are: Carat weight, Clarity, Colour and Cut. However, the 4Cs probably applies more to transparent, faceted gems. Other gem materials like jadeite-jade and nephrite-jade has its own unique grading system. Therefore, the beauty of a gem may also be described as the ‘quality’ of a gem.

Assessing value of gems
A set of blue sapphires put together for colour comparison. Colour is an important factor when assessing value of gems.

Rarity

Rarity means uncommon, or unusual. Diamonds are rare because the yield of mining production is very low. For every 5carat total weight of diamonds mined, approximately 300 tons of ore needs to be processed. Similarly for rubies and sapphires, in many mining countries, the mining technique is still quite manual, although some are semi-automatic. Kashmir sapphires for example, are mined from very harsh conditions. Hence, explaining its rarity.

There are also some gemstones which are rare because of its phenomenal optical effects. In order to achieve perfect chatoyancy (cat’s-eye) or asterism (star), it depends on the rough material as well as the lapidary. When the best of the two comes together, the fashioned gemstone becomes very rare.

assessing value of afghanistan emeralds
Rough Afghanistan emeralds. These emeralds tend to be slightly lighter in colour and not as saturated as those of Columbian emeralds. However, beautiful green pieces are also very hard to come by. The value is in its ‘hard to come by’ factor.

 

Durability

Gemstones are valuable because of its durability. It doesn’t get damaged easily and therefore keeps its quality the same for a very very long time. Therefore, some pieces of gems and jewellery can be kept and passed down from one generation to another. Family heirlooms have very intrinsic value that is very hard to quantify. When assessing value of gemstones, we also will look at how well it has kept its durability, i.e. how well it has been maintain at its highest quality.

Durability involves a few factors: hardness, toughness and stability (to light, heat and chemicals). We will discuss these in the future blog posts.

Meanwhile, we do not want to see chips and scratches on our gems!

assessing value by duarbility
This amethyst has polishing marks on the surface. This is because it has a hardness of only 6.

 

Assessing value of gemstones to be continued…

We have discussed three reasons why gemstones are valuable. In fact, these factors applies also to diamonds and minerals, except for some variations in the details.

In the second part of this topic, we will continue to discuss on why gemstones are valuable.

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