Gemstone Colors

What we all love about gemstones is the great variety of colors they come in. Here we will tell you what to take into consideration when choosing the right color of your gem, and when it's considered most valuable.


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Color is undoubtedly the most important criteria for evaluating and selecting gemstones. Because gemstones come in a rainbow of colors, color grading can be very complex. The three key criteria experts look at are hue, tone, and saturation. These attributes combine to create the colors we observe. Lighting is another important factor; gemstone color and brilliance can appear very different depending on the light source.


The hue of a gemstone is its base color. Hues can combine to produce additional hues, such as orangish-red or purplish-blue. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed a list of 31 hues for describing gemstones: 7 base hues and 24 combination hues.

Gemstones with a single pure hue tend to be the most highly valued.


Tone describes the lightness to darkness of a color. A pink gemstone, for instance, might be categorized as “light pink” or “medium pink”. The GIA tone scale has a total of 11 points, going from colorless to black.


Saturation is the intensity or purity of a color. With lower saturation, gemstone color becomes less pure and a gray or brown hue can be seen. The most desirable gemstones are those with strong saturation and even color throughout.

According to the GIA saturation scale, there are six degrees of saturation, ranging from grayish or brownish to vivid. As saturation decreases, gemstones with cool hues can appear grayish, while gemstones with warm hues can appear brownish.


Gemstones can be a variety of different colours. Diamonds are typically completely transparent and white, rubies are red, sapphires are blue, and emeralds are green. Stones that are typically green, for example, can have different colours if they have any impurities or inclusions.
Fluorite gemstones and quartz are regarded as the most colourful gemstones. The minerals often display a wide variety of colours and look magnificent in bright lighting. Although they are not the most valuable, they are popular with collectors.
High-quality rubies, sapphires and emeralds are less abundant than diamonds and, as such, are often more expensive. That said, flawless diamonds can cost well in excess of $10,000 per carat as their supply and how they are cultivated is tightly controlled by the authorities.
The rare gemstone is called Painite which was only discovered in 1950 by a British gemologist called Arthur Charles Davy Pain. Up until 2005, it was believed that there still fewer than 25 known examples in the world.
It is becoming increasingly challenging to know if a gemstone is real or synthetic. However, real stones tend to have a rougher feel due to the mineral content and are more malleable (tougher). They also tend not to mist up when you breathe on them whereas glass or other synthetic products would.