Factors That Determine a Gemstone’s Worth

Written by sol-jewel on . Posted in Blog

If you own a piece of jewelry that contains a colored gemstone in it, you likely wonder how much the stone itself is worth. You may even wonder what factors jewelers, gemologists, and pawn shop dealers use to determine a stone’s value.

Whether you inherited an heirloom ruby ring from your great-grandmother or you purchased a new pair of sapphire earrings, the factors that determine the gem’s value remain the same. Below, we discuss some of those factors so you understand what affects your stone’s price and worth.

The Four C’s

You’re likely familiar with the four c’s that gemstones display: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Let’s take a closer look at these four features.


When miners excavate gemstones, the stones themselves appear rough and coarse. They aren’t perfectly round or square—that shape comes from cutters who trim and cut the raw stone into a specific shape.

The way the stone is cut greatly affects its value. If it isn’t cut properly, the stone looks imperfect and less desirable, and the stone’s value drops as a result.


Anyone who wants to purchase a precious or semi-precious gemstone looks for a stone that is free of blemishes. Any imperfections make the stone more difficult to cut, and they also make the stone less desirable. After all, many people purchase gemstones for their purity and brilliance.

When you have an expert examine your gemstone, he or she will look for imperfections that impede clarity. For example, if a blemish causes the stone to look murky in one area, the stone won’t be worth as much on the market.


Gemstones reflect light within them to produce an array of colors. Sometimes, mineral deposits or other items affect the stone’s overall color. While ideal diamonds should be colorless, colored stones should display rich, deep colors to maintain intrinsic value. So the more intense the color of the stone, the higher its value.

Carat Weight

As with most things in life, the bigger a stone is, the more money it’s worth. But the stone’s weight alone doesn’t determine its value. Experts look for large stones that have rich colors, are cut precisely and cleanly, and have optimum clarity. These types of stones are rare, so a one-carat ruby that displays these features is worth significantly more than other gemstones.

The Stone’s Enhancements

When a stone is processed and treated, it is cut and polished to improve its overall look. But the enhancements refer to any other treatments used to further improve the stone’s look and value.

For example, blue topaz stones don’t exist in nature. Gem experts allow the stone to undergo high-tech irradiation to give it the iconic crystal-blue hue. This process is an enhancement used to further improve the stone’s appearance.

The type of additional treatment can greatly affect the stone’s value. Typically, however, enhanced stones are worth less than those that only underwent cutting and polishing.

The Stone’s Class

Precious stones include rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires. Semi-precious stones include every other type of gemstone on the market. While gem experts don’t rely on preciousness to determine a stone’s value, they do classify stones into two categories: diamonds and colored stones.

The stone’s class plays a small role in determining its value. Ultimately, gemologists look to a stone’s overall quality to discover its worth.

The Stone’s Supply and Demand

Finally, the market supply and demand greatly affect how much a stone is worth. The rarer a stone is and the more people want it, the higher its value. For example, tanzanite is becoming rarer each year. Since people still covet the stone, its worth has increased significantly to accommodate the diminishing supply.


As you consider your gemstone’s value, keep the above factors in mind. If you decide that you want to sell your old, unworn jewelry, visit your local pawn shop. The staff there can inspect the gemstones in each piece and determine its value.

Additionally, these dealers will often give you better upfront pricing on your valuable items. Stop by your local pawn shop and discover just how much that old ring or necklace is worth.

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