Gemstone Color

Gemstones have been prized throughout the ages mainly for their remarkable colors. It is for this reason that we are pleased to offer a wide range of colored gems at our custom jewelry design business in Seattle and Bellevue.

Colors of Gemstones

There are four characteristics by which a gemstone is valued: color, cut, clarity and carat. Gemstone color is often considered the prominent feature of these four because it is usually the first characteristic noticed when choosing a stone.

There is an array of colors to choose from when shopping for a gemstone. Each stone color often has a special meaning, especially for the stones used as birthstones. Birth stones are usually a specific color and are connected to a particular month. The standard February birthstone, for example, is the purple amethyst, which is associated with royalty. September birthdays are celebrated with sapphires, which are a deeper shade of blue than the March aquamarine stone. Sapphires also symbolize faith, while aquamarine stones are connected with the ocean.

Although a skilled craftsman can spotlight a gemstone’s brilliance via the stone’s cut, there are three more factors that bring out the beauty of the stone. These factors constitute the actual gemstone color that we can see; hue, tone and saturation.

Gemstone Hue

The hue of a gemstone is its basic color. Six of the seven colors of the rainbow comprise the primary hue distinctions for gemstones; red, orange, yellow, blue, green and violet. Some stones may appear as a straight-forward hue, which makes them more desirable, and thus, more valuable. Others may be of mixed hue, such as a reddish-orange garnet or ruby.

Sapphires get their name from the Greek word for blue. Although September sapphires are usually a deep blue, there can be variation in the hue due to a slight difference in the atomic structure. A lighter blue color makes them less valuable than the standard for that type of stone. Since standard hues are associated with each gemstone type, purity of hue is very important to gemstone color. This purity signifies the standard atomic structure for that stone.

Saturation of Color

Hue saturation describes the intensity level of a gemstone color. An amethyst that is intensely purple has a high purple saturation. If, however, the amethyst has some blue or other shade, the saturation of purple is said to be less than the standard for that stone. A blue stone such as an aquamarine or a sapphire stone that is not fully saturated may have a slightly gray shade.

A gemstone with the most color saturation is regarded as a truly beautiful version of that type of stone and is highly valued. That value is reduced, however, if there is any saturation variation that occurs throughout the stone.

Gemstone Tone

The tone of a gemstone, like tone in music or writing, describes the degree of light or darkness. Tone is determined by how much light a stone either absorbs or reflects. A white diamond absorbs no color, while a very dark, perhaps even black garnet soaks up all light. Each type of stone has a preferred tone that may vary based upon the gemstone color. For stones where darker may be preferred, such a rubies, it is important that the stone not be so dark as to soak up all light. A dark, muddled stone may appear almost black, which significantly diminishes its beauty and lowers its value.