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Gems Galore: A Guide to Understanding Jewels

Whether you’re a collector, a wearer or just an appreciator of jewelry, there is no denying that adornments made of rare stones & elements have charmed people from all cultures for thousands of years, which explains their ever increasing value. Jewelry is the means to symbolize concepts or emotions as well as a way of self expression–for example, gifting jewelry can be a way to show appreciation, love or even kinship and wearing certain types of jewelry can signify marital status or the grandness of the occasion. 

It’s no wonder then why certain jewelry pieces become historical icons, with some famous examples featured below:

The Hope Diamond. 45.52 carat blue diamond with a supposedly cursed history. picture credit: veranda.com


Princess Diana’s Engagement Ring. The significance of the ring (now belonging to the Duchess of Cambridge) to the British Royal Family has made the ring one of the most beloved jewelry pieces of all time. picture credit: veranda.com.


L’Incomparable Diamond. The largest internally flawless diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America & the most expensive necklace in the world. picture credit: veranda.com


Learning to understand different types of jewels (also known as gems & gemstones) can be an exciting and very rewarding experience, though it demands some effort. Given how colloquially terms pertaining to gems are used more loosely than their strict definitions, it also requires precise knowledge and speech, which can take years to learn. Experts in jewelry making, manufacturing or selling have this extensive training and while we can’t offer years of knowledge in one blog post, we can provide you with a speedy guide on different types of precious stones & elements, and quick know hows on understanding why their values vary across the spectrum. Additionally, we use customer’s picks from our jewelry lines to present much of the information, which we hope embellishes your reading experience! 

The Jewel: Precious & Semi-Precious Stones

The gemstone of the jewelry piece is often in the center and presented as the main focus of attention, as they are usually the most unique part of the piece. The stones are categorized into precious or semi-precious stones which gives the false impression that precious stones are more rare and thus, more valuable than their semi precious counterparts. In reality, this isn’t true – the classification is arbitrary and in some parts of the world, somewhat outdated. In the West however, this terminology is still common and the precious stones still refer to diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires – these gems comprise the 4 true precious stones by definition and all other gemstones are categorized as semi-precious stones.

As a handy resource, we made the list below for the most popular precious and semi precious stones used for jewelry,  along with their distinguishing characteristics and the best type of band pairing. All items are available on our website, which you can access through clicking the image.


The Stunner: Diamond (featured here with a pearl). Possesses the highest shine of all the transparent stones and is the hardest material on earth. Every metal band, from gold to platinum complements a diamond since its characteristic brilliant shine will overshadow any other complementary material in the piece.
The Charmer in Blue: Sapphire. Real color of the gem is white but the presence of naturally mixed minerals gives it the characteristic cobalt hue. The jewel is strongly associated with aristocracy, with the most famous sapphire engagement ring now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge. Every metal band complements the royal gem, but silver is an especially popular pick, as the starkness of sapphire is balanced by the sleekness of silver.


Seductive & Rare: the Emerald. Possesses one of the clearest depths of color out of all gemstones, where different lighting can determine the vividness of the green – to preserve this element, emerald requires a special cutting technique. Queen Cleopatra is one of the most famous lovers of emerald and to this date, is cited to have one of the most extensive collections of the jewel. Normally cast with yellow gold, white gold has also become popular to pair with this gem in recent times.



Rosy & Red: the Ruby (featured here with diamonds). Bearing the color of love & desire, the jewel is an iconic gift for a woman in love. Pure rubies now hold one of the highest recorded auction prices out of all colored gems, arguably because the jewel keeps becoming harder to find & mine. The gemstone is best paired with white & rose gold, as both of those add to the way the facets of the gem reflect light.


Sleek Mystery: the Black Onyx. One of the most popular stones in the market today, the onyx was worshipped by ancient Egyptians, who believed it had spiritual powers. Best paired with silver to add to its sleek look, the stone is undeniably mesmerizing.


The Ultraviolet Energy: the Amethyst. Associated with mindfulness and spirituality, the gem was a favorite of many royals in the past. The unique violet color is idiosyncratic to the stone which adds to its value. Paired best with platinum or even better on its own.
Warm & Honey Gold: the Citrine. Possessing a unique warm orange color & a vivid sparkle in the middle, the gem is associated with reinvigoration and renewal. The best pairing to further highlight the warm tones in the jewel is yellow gold.

There are many, many more semi precious stones which are made into beautiful jewelry pieces, some featured below!

Evaluating the Jewel 

In general jewelry appraisers look at 4 qualities or the 4C’s (cut, clarity, color and carat) to measure the true value of a single jewelry piece –the method as it stands is the most effective for diamonds and while it is still the basis of the approach for the colored gems, a more complicated system is in place to evaluate the true color quality of the gem, with sub-categories such as hue, saturation, tone and coverage. 

The aim of the practice is to see how these four qualities are balanced in a single jewel, as some have to be compromised for the sake of the other –for example, cutting a colored stone to display best color, or hue might mean less carat weight, which might be undervalued later. In fact, cutting is so important for how these qualities come together that the choices made by the cutter are even given its own name, “cutter’s tradeoff”. The cut of the gem determines the style of the jewel and sometimes the design of the entire piece, and so it’s not an overstatement to say that the cut also determines much of the value for the piece – that being said, while some cuts offer the best balance between the four qualities of the jewel, some customers have personal preferences for the shape of their jewels, which has recently become a more prominent factor in people’s selection process.

The Band: Rare elements 

The precious elements are the naturally occurring elements silver [Ag] and gold [Au]. Silver is found in its lustrous white metal form, whereas gold is found as a soft metal exhibiting a yellowish color. Along similar lines as gems, the precious elements, silver & gold are very rare and valued for their purity, which is measured in carat. 

Silver in Nature. credit: britannica.com
Gold Nugget in Nature. credit: pinterest

Evaluating Gold & Silver Purity

Wearable gold & silver can never be 100% pure as it requires alloys for durability & shape maintenance (additives are also ways by which yellow gold is made into white & rose gold). In its purest form, gold weighs 24k, which means it contains over 99% gold – the best quality for gold is thought to be between 18k -24k.

While gold is a classic choice to pair with gems such as diamond, amethyst, emerald & blue topaz. It can also be worn on its own and is elegant as everyday jewelry. 

18k White Gold Fox Pin


White Gold Hammered Drop Earrings with Blue Topaz
18k White Gold Amethyst Clusters
  18k White Gold Pave Diamond Bracelet


Yellow gold is best paired with diamonds, peridot & citrine and is also often worn on its own for an understated yet elegant look.

18k Gold Honeycomb Earrings with Peridots
18k Gold Leaf Earrings Sapphires Diamonds
18k Gold Hoop Earrings


Square Yellow Beryl Earrings Yellow Gold


Fluted Swirls Gold Earrings

Silver in its purest form is called sterling silver, and contains 92.5% silver which is why it’s sometimes denoted as 925 silver, Sterling silver jewelry is a popular choice to pair with diamonds, sapphires & amethyst and is an equally popular pick for everyday use on its own – durability of sterling silver and its resistance to corrosion are  its most known qualities, which is why we highly recommend sterling silver for jewelry that you rare take off. 

Men’s Sterling Silver and Leather Bracelet
Sterling Silver Compass Cufflinks
Sterling Silver Ruby Cufflinks
Christofle Sterling Silver Large Ring


Buccellati Daisy Blossom Sterling Silver Earrings


Sterling Silver Double Circle Pendant Necklace

Customer Favorites

Now that you are aware what makes gems & elements “precious”, you can view the different ways they can be styled below:

Perfect for: Everyday Casual

Sterling Silver & Rhodocrosite Pendant Necklace
Sterling Silver Wax Seal Pendant Necklace
Sterling Silver Mother of Pearl Cufflinks
18k Gold Hoop Earrings


18k Yellow Gold Twisted Wire Necklace Chain


Perfect for: Special Occasions 


18k Gold Madeira Citrine & Peridot Earrings


18K White Gold Prasiolite & Amethyst Earrings


18K Yellow Gold Channel Earrings with Diamonds


Cultured Pearls, Peridot and Diamonds


18k Gold Emerald & Yellow Beryl Necklace


Perfect For: Exceptional Occasions 


18k White Gold Aquamarine & Pearl Necklace


18k Gold Woven Tanzanite & Diamond Necklace


18k White Gold Sapphire & Diamond Bracelet
18k Yellow Gold Ruby & Diamond Daisy Pin
18K White Gold Emerald & Diamond Ring

We hope that this was an informative beginner’s guide to precious jewels and elements. Leave your comments below! 

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