Gemstones 101
Here’s a little write up on the gemstones we love to work with at SueShimmers with an emphasis on diamonds. Gemstones are divided into 3 broad categories; precious, semi-precious and artificial.


Precious Stones

Diamonds are precious stones that come in various shapes and sizes. The pricing of a diamond is determined by specific characteristics of the stone that are termed the four C’s. These are the cut, colour, carat and clarity of the diamond.


A diamond cut refers to the ability of a diamond to reflect light and sparkle. How well a diamond is cut affects its beauty as well as its value. A diamond’s cut is described by its brilliance, fire and scintillation (the way a diamond sparkles or darkens when it is moved about in light).

Colourless diamonds are rare and expensive. A colour scheme which ranges from D-Z, with D being colourless is used to grade diamonds. Diamonds rated D, E and F are colourless. Those rated between G-J are near colourless. K, L and M are slightly tinted or yellowish whereas N-Q have a tint that can be seen with the naked eye. The colours rated S-Z are tinted.

The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. This is perhaps one of the biggest influences on the pricing of diamonds as large diamonds are rare. Prices therefore increase from smaller diamonds to larger ones.

The absence of inclusions in a diamond is described by its clarity. These inclusions may or may not be seen with the naked eye. Clearer diamonds are more expensive than unclear diamonds. The ratings for the clarity of a diamond are as follows;

FL – These diamonds are flawless and do not show inclusions under 10X magnification.

IF – Termed internally flawless diamonds, they only show very little inclusions.

VVS1 and VVS2 – These have very very slightly included blemishes that may not be easily noticed under magnification.

VS1 and VS2 – diamonds with this rating very slight included impurities.

SI1, SI2 and SI3 – these diamonds are termed slightly included because they contain inclusions that can be easily noticed under magnification.

I1, I2 and I3- termed included, they have blemishes that can be seen with the naked eye. The clarity of these group of diamonds may affect its beauty.


Sapphires are traditionally blue but occur in other beautiful colours. In fact, they occur in every colour of the rainbow except red. Sapphires are associated with the month of September.

Emeralds are loved for their distinct green colour. Imperfections are a common feature of emeralds and every stone has a unique ‘defect’. This tone is regarded as the birthstone for May.

Tanzanite is a very special stone found only in a small mining area in Tanzania. It has a lovely blue-violet hue and is one of the December birthstones.

This traditional gemstone for July has a beautiful red colour. Deep red rubies command higher prices than lighter ones.


Semi-precious stones
Semi-precious stones are generally less expensive than precious stones. Let’s take a look at 10 of our favorite and most popular semi-precious gems.

A pearl is a classic stone that represents purity. Pearls that occur naturally are rare. Most of the natural pearls sold on the market today are cultured and come in a variety of colours.

This is a purple stone which also occurs in hues from light pinkish- violet to deep purple.This is the stone for February.

Aquamarine is pale blue in colour and is the traditional birth-stone for March.

This is the birthstone for August and they occur in a lovely olive-green colour.

Citrines occur as yellow, greenish-yellow, brownish yellow or orange and are the birthstone for November.

Turquoise is the birthstone for December. It is opaque and occurs in blue-green hues.

Although topaz a is naturally golden brown to yellow, it can be treated to make it grey,

wine, orange, pink or pale green. November birthdays are associated with Topaz.

Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone which occurs in almost any colour and is the birthstone for October.

Garnets are dark red but also occur in red, purple, orange, yellow, green, and a few others. Garnets are used for 2nd anniversary celebrations and are also the birthstone for January.


Artificial Stones

Cubic Zirconia
One of the most widely used artificial stones is cubic zirconia. It is a flawless diamond imitation and comes in several colours.