Gemporia Q&A: Answering Your Gemstone Questions

| 9 min read

Gemstones are one of Mother Nature’s natural creations, and there’s nothing we love more than uncovering all of their hidden secrets. Plus, we also love passing our knowledge on to you!

Read below for answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about gemstones.

What exactly gives gemstones their value?

Gemstone Analysis

Gemstones are valuable for a number of reasons, the main one being the amount of time, effort and treasure that goes into mining them. As time progresses, the cost of mining rises – therefore, natural gemstones are becoming rarer and their value is constantly going up.

In terms of what gives gemstones their value, a number of factors come into play. The obvious ones are their size and colour (which both play a huge part in determining the gemstone’s grade). However, their brilliance, clarity and price per carat also help to decide what a stone is worth. The flaws a gemstone has contributes to its overall value, as well as whether the stone was naturally mined or produced in a lab.

Who cuts gemstones?


Lapidarists (or gem cutters) are the people who cut and polish gemstones for fine jewellery. In today’s world, lapidary is considered one of the most challenging forms of art on Earth, and there are many tasks involved in the cutting of precious and semi-precious stones.

Lapidarists must consider everything from the shape of the gemstone to where it should be cut in order to best show its colour and maximise its beauty. To achieve this, there are five main steps lapidarists go through:

  • Gemstone orientation (deciding which part of the rough stone should be cut to maximise its brilliance)

  • Making the first cut (a saw with Diamond tips is used to cut rough material into however many pieces are needed)

  • Grinding the gemstone (a horizontal wheel, known as a lap, is used to grind the gemstone to get an outline shape)

  • Shaping the gemstone (a paste, often made of small Diamond pieces, is used to grind the gem into the desired shape)

  • Polishing the gemstone (the gemstone is polished to a mirror-like finish, usually using fine grades of Diamond dust)

Unlike many other artists, such as painters, lapidarists have to be particularly careful because the materials they’re working with are already valuable before they even begin. Plus, one mistake could render the gemstone worthless.

The art of lapidary is truly phenomenal, and it takes an extremely skilful hand to ensure gemstones are cut and polished to perfection.

Are gemstones a good investment?


Depending on your finances and personal circumstances, plus the actual value of the gem, gemstones can be an extremely good investment. There are some stones that are more of a solid investment than others, though.

Using Tanzanite as an example, it’s becoming more and more sought after due to being mined from one very small location, meaning that the contents of the mine are likely to soon be exhausted. Then, of course, once the mine closes, the demand for Tanzanite will increase even more.

However, another main source of a gemstone’s value is its authenticity. If your gemstone has a certificate from a trusted gemological institute (such as the GIA), it proves it’s authentic and is automatically more valuable.

So, yes, gemstones are a good investment in a lot of ways. But, before you invest, always consider:

  • The stone’s certification

  • Any factors that could cause a rise or fall in the stone’s value

  • Your interest in the stone itself

  • Your personal circumstances

Which gemstones are precious?

Sapphire Jewellery

You may have seen a lot of gemstones referred to as either precious or semi-precious, and the difference between the two is a rather simple one to explain.

The four most precious gemstones are Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby, and pretty much all other stones are known as semi-precious.

These four stones are considered precious due to their hardness. A gemstone’s durability is measured by its position on the Mohs scale of hardness – in other words, how scratch resistant it is.

Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby rank the highest on the Mohs scale, with Diamond adopting the top spot. Ruby and Sapphire sit at nine on the Mohs scale, meaning that they’re able to scratch everything ranked below it, but can only be scratched by a Diamond. Therefore, only a Diamond can scratch another Diamond.

So, for a gemstone with a low chance of damage that can truly last forever, we’d recommend any of these precious stones.


How are gemstones formed?

Open Cast Mining

Most gemstones form naturally as minerals within the earth. Some were formed deep inside the earth and brought to the surface by explosions of molten rock, such as Diamond and Zircon. Others, such as Topaz and Tourmaline, slowly crystallised from hot fluids and gases as they cooled and solidified over time.

Regardless of how a natural gemstone forms, the process occurs over many many years, and the end result is retrieved through various mining techniques. Gemstone formations are a true natural phenomenon, and we absolutely love discovering the truth of their origins.

Which gemstones go best together?

Gemstone Jewellery

Jewellery collections are often made to be completely personal - and who are we to tell you how to style your gemstones!?

But, if you’re after a few accessorising tips, here are a simple few:

  • Consider gemstones with colours that are opposites on the colour wheel e.g. Ruby and Emerald (red and green)

  • Play with monochromatic colours (one colour’s different shades) e.g. Blue Sapphire and Tanzanite

  • White and colourless gemstones, such as Diamonds and Pearls, go with just about everything

But in all honesty, if it’s something you like and something that makes you happy, you can combine any set of gemstones you wish.

Which gemstones are best for engagement rings?

Engagement Rings

It goes without saying that Diamonds are perfect for engagement rings – they're timeless, durable, and undeniably beautiful.

However, if you’re wanting to go down an alternative route, it’s best to start with the more precious gemstones since an engagement ring requires gems that will last for years. Rubies, Emeralds or Sapphires are wonderful choices, but there’s also nothing wrong with going slightly further down the Mohs scale with stones such as Tanzanite and Topaz – they’re slightly less durable, but still strong.


Is there a difference between gemstones and crystals?

Aquamarine Crystal

The terms ‘gemstone’ and ‘crystal’ are often thought to be interchangeable, but there are some key differences that separate the two.

A gem is a rare mineral of the purest quality – therefore, it is priced highly and considered to be ‘gem quality’. It can certainly be crystalline in nature, which is a reason why the terms ‘gemstone’ and ‘crystal’ are often considered synonymous.

However, not all crystals are considered ‘gem quality’. Crystals, although a pure substance with molecules arranged to create a geometric pattern, aren’t always made of a rare and high-quality mineral.

In short, in this particular context, the terms ‘gemstone’ and ‘crystal’ can be interchangeable, but for the most part are completely separate.

Gemstones and crystals are classified in different ways, too. Usually, gems are categorised based on their chemical composition – in other words, what minerals can be found within it and how it is structured. Crystals, on the other hand, are most often classified by their shape – whether it’s a cubic crystal, a hexagonal crystal, a rhombohedral crystal or anything in between.

The similarities and differences between gemstones and crystals can make the concept of separating the two extremely confusing. However, generally speaking, gemstones and crystals are not the same thing.


Which gemstones can be found in the UK?


A great question, and a fun one to answer!

From the highlands of Scotland to the beaches of Cornwall, gemstones can be found almost everywhere in the UK.

Various varieties of precious stones such as Diamond, Sapphire and Ruby have been uncovered from the likes of North and South West Scotland. Move further south, and traces of Agate have been found in the northwest of England and even the Isle of Man.

Amber has been unearthed from multiple areas along the eastern and southern English coasts, and the southernmost parts of Cornwall are also home to various traces of Amethyst.

For more information on what fascinating gemstones have been uncovered from the UK, click here.

What is the best Diamond grade?

Diamond Ring

Scientifically speaking, the best Diamond Grade (according to the GIA Clarity Grading System) is Flawless.

Although no two Diamonds are the same, Flawless Diamonds have no visible inclusions or blemishes, and are seen as perfectly clear when examined by experienced Diamond graders.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw a cluster of Flawless Diamonds into your basket straight away!

Yes, Flawless Diamonds are typically the top grade – however, when it comes to purchasing Diamonds for yourself or a loved one, there are factors other than its clarity to consider. Cut, carat weight, colour and certification are also important, as well as your overall budget. With all of these concepts in mind, you should be able to find a Diamond that’s practically made for you.

For more information on Diamonds and their grades, click here.


There you have it! We hope we’ve provided you some ‘clarity’ (pun intended) on some of the many concepts of the gemstone world, and it gives you a little bit of an insight into an industry that so many people – including us – love.

Do you have a gemstone that you want to learn more about? Or maybe you have a piece of jewellery that you're not sure how to care for. If you have a gemstone question, feel free to send it to us at [email protected], and we may just have the answer in our next Gemporia Q&A!

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