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The Three C's

This is a quick guide to the main ways that gemstones are judged and classified. Most of this applies to natural ground-dug stones rather than synthetic, laboratory created or man made stones.



These are some of the most common cuts for stones. When you cut a stone what you are doing is to cut facets (or faces) into it that will maximise the impact of the gem, showing off it's colour and sparkle and getting the biggest stone from the rough gem.



This term refers to how flawless the gem is. Usually the fewer flaws the stone has, the higher it's price will be. The grading system for diamonds is different for the one for coloured stones which is given below.

VVS: Very, Very Slightly Included
VS: Very Slightly Included
SI1, SI2: Slightly Included 1 and 2
I1, I2, I3: Imperfect 1, 2 and 3
Dcl: Declasse

Some gemstones however are more likely to be included than others, for that reason different types of stone are also used.

Type I - Includes aquamarine, morganite, smoky quartz, topaz (blue, yellow, orange, pink, red), zircon (blue), and tanzanite. In the marketplace these gemstones are often virtually inclusion-free.
Type II - Includes corundum (all colors), garnets (all species), iolite, peridot, quartz (amethyst, citrine, ametrine), spinel (all colors), tourmaline (blue, orange, yellow, parti-), and zircon (green, orange, red, yellow). In the marketplace these gemstones are usually included.
Type III - Includes emerald, and tourmaline (red, pink, watermelon). In the marketplace these gemstones are almost always included.

For diamonds clarity is given by the following classification:

Fl, Flawless -No internal or external flaws.
IF, Internally Flawless -No internal flaws. Slight external blemishes.
VVS1 & VVS2, Very, very slightly included. -Minute inclusions. Difficult for even an experienced grader to detect.
VS1 & VS2, Very slightly included -Minute inclusions. Not easily seen by an experienced grader.
SI1 & SI2, Slightly included - Inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader.
I1 & I2 & I3, Included -Obvious inclusions that may affect transparency and brilliance.



Although colour may be the thing that you first notice about a gemstone, and may indeed be the reason why you like a particular stone over another, in terms of valuing a stone it's much less imporant than Clarity for coloured stones. With diamonds however it is a different matter and the most colourless are the most valuable.
Choose the colour of stones that you like best and which make you feel happiest, after all you are the one wearing the jewellery!
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