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  • Jewelry Buying Guide

Jewelry Buying Guide


Diamond Jewelry


Cut is divided into Shape, Proportion, Polish, and Symmetry. Shape, Proportions, and facet placement, are all of great importance when cutting a diamond to its most brilliant appearance. Symmetry can describe both length to width ratio and also depth percentages. This can have the greatest effect on how a diamond shines. The Polish is how well light enters and exits the facets of the diamond. The cleaner, or more polished a facet is, the more light that will enter a diamond.


Traditionally, color in a diamond is graded based on the lack of color in the diamond. The hues graded in “white” diamonds are actually faint tones of yellow, brown, and grays. Listed below are the color grades used to evaluate diamond color. An alphabetical scale starting at D is used to evaluate the color.

D, E, F
G, H, I
Near Colorless
Faint Color
L - R
Noticeable Color
S – Z
Obvious Color

Fancy Color

Once the color drops below the range of the scale (Z), or has a completely different hue than yellow, brown, or gray, it then becomes a Fancy Color diamond. Fancy colors are graded on how much color and how strong it is. Diamonds come in every color of the rainbow including blue, pink, and yellow, purple, black and many more. In general, fancy colored diamonds are rarer than colorless diamonds.


Clarity is the grade that describes the inclusions and blemishes of the diamond. The fewer inclusions and blemishes a diamond has, the more valuable it is. Clarity can also have a direct impact on how much brilliance a stone has. If there are too many inclusions or they are in certain places of the diamond, the inclusions can block the light from reflecting and diminish the beauty of the diamond.

The following clarity grades are listed from highest to lowest:


Flawless (FL)
These show no inclusions or blemishes of any kind inside or outside of the diamond.
Internally Flawless (IF)
Internally flawless diamonds do not have internal inclusions but can have some external blemishes, such as a miniscule scratch.
Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 & 2)
This grade describes inclusions that are minute under 10X magnification. A trained gemologist would have difficulty finding any inclusions with magnification.
Very Slightly Included (VS1 & 2)
Very slightly included diamonds have minor inclusions which are somewhat easy for a trained grader to see with magnification.
Slightly Included (SI 1 & 2)
These diamonds have inclusions that are easy to see with 10x magnification. The inclusions should be extremely difficult for a trained gemologist to see without magnification
Included (I1, 2, & 3)
These inclusions are obvious without magnification.


Carat is a weight measurement of diamonds and gemstones. It is abbreviated ct or CT and sometimes DTW “Diamond Total Weight”. DTW is stated when there are multiple diamonds and or colored gemstones set in the same jewelry piece. It is sometimes difficult for the average person to equate carat weight with an actual size. With that in mind, we have included a very brief guideline for comparing carat weight to millimeters. This is only intended for ideal cut round diamonds. The depth of the diamond, the shape, and how it is cut can cause significant variations from these measurements.

¼ ct
1/3 ct
½ ct
¾ ct
1 ct
2 ct
4.4 mm
6.5 mm
8.2 mm


The vast majority of pearls in the market are cultured (farm grown). A cultured pearl is a real pearl that grows due to humans placing a piece of shell, bead, or tissue inside the mollusk. The origin of a cultured pearl can make a large difference in the overall price point. Some of the most popular types of pearls and their corresponding characteristics are listed below.

Akoya, Tahitian, & South Sea


Ranging from 2-10 mm with an average of 6-7 mm these cultured pearls are generally round in shape. The colors range from white to cream, all other colors are assumed dyed. Akoya are the traditional pearl found in strands. Akoya pearls are the specialty of Japanese pearl farms  

South Sea

These cultured pearls usually range from 10-20 mm and average about 13 mm. The colors for South Sea pearls are beautiful white, cream, and golden colors that are completely natural.


These cultured pearls are naturally grey, silver, or black pearls that generally range from 8-16 mm. The most sought after Tahitian pearls are black with a peacock overtone.


These pearls are cultured in fresh water. Freshwater pearls can range between 2 to 13 mm, with the average being 6-7 mm. These pearls are white when harvested but can be dyed to any color in the rainbow. The black pearls can have rainbow iridescence, a unique characteristic of freshwater pearls.

Colored Gemstones

Colored Gemstones, just like diamonds, can be classified and evaluated by the “four Cs”: color, carat weight, cut, and clarity.


Color is the most important factor in evaluating gemstones. Gems with the brightest and most vivid color will usually have the highest value. Specific gemstones only occur in a certain color range. For example, you will never see a Peridot in an emerald green color due to the chemical and physical properties of the stone. When evaluating color, you need to evaluate the saturation of color in relation to the known colors that the gem occurs in. It would be unfair to grade that same Peridot as a very weak green because it is not the same green that an Emerald can be seen in. Within each gemstone variety, a clear, medium-tone, very intense and saturated primary color is generally the most preferred.

Carat Weight

Carat weight is the most self explanatory. Larger gemstones are rarer and more expensive than comparable smaller gemstones. As with color, the frequency of large stone sizes is dependant on the type of gemstone. For example, Rubies and Emeralds hardly ever occur in large sizes while Amethyst and Tourmaline are often found in sizes up to 10 carats. Carat weight is based on a measurement of how much the stone weighs. Depending on the crystal structural and the chemical properties, one gemstone may have a higher specific gravity than another stone. This is why colored gemstones are usually measured in millimeters instead of carat weight on our site. This means that if you have two gemstones that have the identical cut and carat weight, one may appear bigger due to how dense or heavy the product is. For an example outside of gemology, if you had a box of lead and a box of plastic that are the same size, the lead would weigh more than the plastic.


How a gemstone is cut determines the final beauty of the stone. A master gem cutter can look at the rough gem material and determine what slight differences in cutting angle will yield the most brilliant stone. The precise angles and proportions are not as specific in colored gemstones as they are in diamonds. Diamond cutting focuses on maximizing brilliance. Colored gemstone cutting is centered on maximizing color. Quality cutting can make the difference between a nice stone and a stone that takes your breath away!


Gemstones contain inclusions that can provide proof of their natural origin. Inclusions can also help determine if any treatments have occurred on a particular gemstone. As in the other “Cs”, clarity is relative to the type of gemstone evaluated. Some gemstones usually occur with few to no inclusions. Others, such as emeralds, are known for their inclusions. A flawless emerald would be nearly priceless while a flawless aquamarine would be fairly standard. As with diamond grading, 10x magnification is used by gemologists to evaluate clarity. The final assessment is made with the unaided eye.

Caring for Colored Gemstones
When possible, avoid wearing your gemstone jewelry when you are involved in activities that could cause it damage such as yard work, sports, or at any time where you will be in contact with harsh chemicals. Chemicals, such as chlorine can harm your jewelry with extended exposure. These gemstones are far more delicate than diamonds. The best way to clean your colored gemstone jewelry is to rinse it with warm water. If needed, you can gently brush the stones with a soft brush, such as a tooth brush. Rinse your jewelry thoroughly, and lay it on a soft cloth to dry. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite should just be wiped clean with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb soap and chemicals, which may build up inside the stone and discolor it. We recommend you visit your jeweler at least once a year to have your jewelry professionally cleaned. The jeweler can also check the setting of your gemstones to make sure the prongs haven't been bent or weakened. You'll find that clean stones heighten the sparkle of your jewelry.



Platinum is a “white” toned metal that is usually pure. If it is 950 parts per thousand or more, it is considered pure. If it is lower, it is an alloy. Platinum is a denser metal then gold, making it more durable and heavier. Platinum will scratch easier than gold, but the metal does not wear or chip away. Platinum is considerably more rare than gold and therefore more valuable. It will always have a worn or “antique” look from daily wear and tear, which some people prefer. It can be taken to a jeweler and polished to a bright finish for those who like the shine.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is classic. Although in its purest form it is usually too soft for jewelry. Therefore, we add other metals and alloy are added to make it hard enough to fashion into wearable jewelry. The type of metal alloyed with the gold will determine what color or tone the gold will be. There are all types of gold tones, the most popular being yellow but also white, pink or rose, green, and even blue. Gold is measured in karat weight, often abbreviated kt or simply K. 24k is the purest form of gold being 100 . There is also 18K = 75 , 14K = 58.3 , and 10K = 41.7 .

White Gold

White Gold is actually yellow gold mixed with white toned alloys to give it the silver appearance. Because gold is naturally yellow, white gold does have a slight tint of yellow to it. To give it the bright shiny white finish we all know, white gold is usually rhodium plated. This is a process that is done electrically and actually fuses to the gold. This plating does not chip off but does wear over time. It can be, and is recommended, that you have your white gold rhodium plated anytime you want to have it look new again.

Gold Filled

Looking just like solid gold, Gold-Filled is actually bonding a thin layer of gold over a brass core. The gold covers the brass surface, which prevents tarnishing, and is a far thicker layer than gold plated components. Even though the gold content is thicker it is not all the way through and therefore must be stated as gold filled.

Gold Plated

Gold plating is a layer of gold, 10kt or more, over a base metal. This process is done by flashing or dipping in the gold. It is not bonded like gold filled or rhodium plating. Gold plating has the potential to wear or chip off but has the same look as solid gold at a lower cost. A lot of watches are gold plated for this very fact. It would be hard for most people to afford a solid gold watch.


Vermeil is the same process as gold plating but the inside is silver not base metal. Wearing off or chipping may occur in these types of items also. No matter how thick the layer of gold is it must clearly state that it is gold plated or vermeil.


Silver is also a soft metal and is commonly alloyed with other metals to make it harder. For silver to be sterling silver it must be 92.5 silver and less then 7.5 other metal.


The metal Titanium is its own element. It is not mixed with anything else or alloyed. Titanium is the hardest metal known and can not be sized. This feature makes it great for watches that are worn constantly. It has a slightly darker shade than white gold or platinum. The surface can be scratched and brushed or it can be polished and buffed to a high shine.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is an alloy metal that has a other metals added to make it harder and more durable. Because of the hypo-allergenic properties and high resistance to corrosion it is used in many medical instruments and is a great metal for body jewelry. Stainless steel has a darker tone than Silver.


Tungsten Carbide is a much heavier and denser metal than Silver and Titanium. Tungsten is an element that is mixed with carbon and a few other trace elements to form a powder. It is then compressed with high temperatures and pressure into a mold. After this process, it is finished with diamond tooling. Tungsten is the hottest new look in fashion jewelry.


The following is the most popular list of birthstones in use today. Any of these gemstones can be worn and enjoyed by anyone, no matter what your official birthstone.

Dark Red
Pale Blue
White (Clear)
Bright Green
Pale Green
Deep Blue
Medium Blue
Blue Topaz, Zircon