Before viewing prospective gemstones, think about your reasons for potentially purchasing one, as this could inform your choices:
Are you purchasing a gemstone to mount into a piece of jewellery?
Are you purchasing a gemstone for educational reasons?
Are you a gemstone collector?
Always look with a loupe!
It is worth viewing any gemstone under magnification, this is the best way of getting a real idea of any damage the stone has, and a look at any inclusions and features that may be inside the gemstone.
Colour is an important aspect to gemstone collecting, the saturation, vividness and correctness of colour is often the first thing we notice when spotting a gemstone.
Assess the colour of the gemstone in natural light, and if possible, under a daylight lamp. Examine the stone from various side as certain optical properties can make the appearance of the stone change when held through different angles.
Look for any optical features, such as play of colour, adularescence, ‘star’ and colour banding.
Decide on the state of the stone you are searching for. For collectors, rough crystals can be even more mesmerising than cut stones, offering clues about the formation and identity of the gemstone.
However if you opt for a cut stone, do you have any preference of shape? Would you rather have a faceted stone, a cabochon, or a carving?
Pay mind to how the cut has made the best of the natural crystal, for example stones with a deeper pavilion are typically cut like this to maximise the natural colour, rectangular cuts are more often cut from more tabular shape crystals.
It is worth considering the condition of any stone viewed. Whilst gemstones can be re-polished for light scratches and nicks, not much can be done to revive a stone with cracks and/or surface reaching fractures.
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