Use the 4 C’s to your advantage.

Almost every book you read on buying gemstones or diamonds will refer to the 4 C’s – Clarity, Cut, Color, and Carat.  These characteristics are not just important to purchasing a quality stone, but even more so to aid in gemstone identification.  Take for example, an Emerald.  I know…I said to avoid buying Emeralds in Afghanistan and I stand by that tip.  But Emeralds are a great example so, as the owner of this blog, I’m going to use the 4 C’s of an Emerald to demonstrate my point.

Stunning pair of Lorraine Schwartz Emerald earrings. If you find these in Afghanistan....they are fake.

Clarity – The Clarity of an Emerald is expected and often desired to have visible inclusions.  The presence of inclusions give Emeralds a warm depth of color that sets it apart from higher refractive stones, such as Tsavorite Garnets.  Inclusions can also help identify origin of the stone as certain mines are known for distinct mineral inclusions.

Color – The Color should be a vivid green with some combination of both green-blue and green-yellow.  Emeralds are dichroic – meaning they exhibit two different colors or hues of colors.

Cut – Typically, Emeralds are cut in the traditional square or rectangular step cut to emphasize the color and maximize use of the rough stone. Emeralds are rarely found in brilliant or oval cuts, which would greatly increase the value of a quality Emerald.

Carat – The Carat size is also important as Emeralds above 3.0 Carats are incredibly rare and expensive, especially in good quality.

What does this mean for you?  Let’s say you are offered a pure green, eye-clean, 4 carat, brilliant cut Emerald at a very reasonable price.  Well,  if you paid attention to the 4 C’s for Emeralds above, then you would immediately spot a shady deal and avoid making a costly mistake.

Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Spinel, Peridot – they all have expected clarity, cuts, colors, and carats.   This concept can be applied to all gemstone varieties, some with more success then others depending on the specificity of the 4 C’s.  Tourmalines, for example, come in a wide variety of colors and hues.   Nevertheless, before you hit the market looking for a specific gemstone, take some time to learn about the 4 C’s for that variety and you will save yourself from making foolish mistakes.

P.S. Even with the 4 C’s, I still don’t recommend buying Emeralds from anyone but a reputable dealer.  Synthetic Emeralds and “doublets” exist in the market place that will pass the 4 C’s test and trick many of the filters available on the market.  Additionally, Emeralds are commonly treated (oiled, waxed or filled).  While some treatment practices are accepted in the industry, they often go undisclosed to the buyer, whether you are in Afghanistan or your local department store.  These treatments may special care and use of the stone.