A Guide to Colored Stones

Colored gemstones have been revered for centuries, even before the field of gemology was invented!
Stones were believed to possess power and were frequently used as talismans.

Now beyond the metaphysical, properties like color saturation and clarity characteristics are important aspects to consider when shopping for a colored gemstone.


Natural color is highly desired because certain colors are exceedingly rare to achieve naturally.
Three things must coincide perfectly to accomplish natural color: chemistry, formation conditions, and time.


Origin significantly contributes to these factors since certain areas of the planet are better incubators for certain gems to form.
Origin is difficult to assess by observation alone and usually is determined by the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL), or at times, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Standard Treatment in Emeralds & Jade

Some gemstones require standard treatments for durability and aesthetics.

Emeralds are delicate stones with naturally occurring internal fractures.
They will often be oiled to reduce fracture visibility as well as to prevent the stone from drying out.
It's very rare to find these gems without any kind of treatment. True treasures!


Heat can often deepen or lighten color and can be administered via human intervention. It can affect clarity characteristics such as rutile needles to create uniform color. Combining heat with certain elements can influence color and finish what nature had started but ran out of resources to complete.

Determining if a gem has been treated takes a careful eye to survey inclusions for evidence of heat. Since most of our gemstones are acquired mounted, it is difficult to fully assess heat treatment. Our ‘No Heat’ declaration is often accompanied by reports from GIA or AGL, or the piece has been evaluated to satisfaction by our trained staff.


Synthetic gemstones have the same physical and chemical properties as their natural counterparts, but they have been grown in a laboratory instead of the earth. Synthetics tend to be less valuable than natural gemstones because they were not formed over a significant amount of time and they are not rare. However, synthetics tend to be very saturated and uniform in color.


All our pieces are evaluated and graded by our professionally certified and trained staff. Mountings prohibit full and accurate observation of gem quality and weight, all data pertaining to mounted gems can be considered as approximate unless accompanied by an independent laboratory report (GIA or AGL).

Colored Gemstones are graded using the GIA prescribed colored stones grading system and nomenclature. Major colored stones are described using the Gem Dialogue color grading system.