How Do I Know if My Gemstone is Good Quality?




Colored gemstones are a beautiful addition to fine jewelry. And considering today’s engagement ring trends, their consistent rise in popularity is hard to ignore. Modern brides are evidently on the lookout for something unique, and a vibrant emerald ring or gorgeous sapphire detail is a sure way to stand out. 

A love for these precious stones might have you asking: What gemstone should I choose for my engagement ring? Or, how do I know my gemstone is good quality?

Let’s discuss the ins and out of these precious gems and how to be confident in your investment. 

June One of a Kind Collection Ring

How Are Gemstones Graded?

Because there are so many stone varieties, there is no universal system for assessing the quality of colored gemstones. Instead, there are several grading scales jewelers utilize based on their own preferences.  

Because of these inconsistencies, the best thing a buyer can do is understand grading elements and how they apply to their unique stone. These are commonly referred to as “the 4Cs” (generally used to assess the quality of a diamond). Each “C” represents a unique method of measurement that ultimately determines a stone’s value: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. 



June One of a Kind Collection Ring


A stone’s cut grade indicates how well it reflects light. In the case of colored gemstones (and their wide range of species), a jeweler assesses this element under magnification through a combination of proportion, polish, and symmetry. These characteristics work together to determine the stone’s cut quality.  

Proportion: Measuring the stone’s facets. Each stone has an ideal proportion designed to maximize the amount of light it reflects.


Polish: The smoothness of the outer surface of the stone.


Symmetry: The exactness of the shape of the stone. If the angles aren’t correct, the stone’s facets will not reflect light.


Cut is one of the most difficult qualities for the untrained eye to judge, and though worth noting, this characteristic is often less relevant for colored gemstones. Unlike diamonds (where the stone’s sparkle is the ultimate goal), a gemstone’s beauty is primarily based on its color, shape, and unique imperfections.


June Collection Azure Sapphire & Ruby



Color is a major gemstone characteristic and immediately recognizable. Not only do different gemstones evoke certain colors, there is a wide range of colors within a singular species. This element is judged by three different factors: hue, tone, and saturation.

Hue: The physical color of the stone 

Tone: The stone’s depth of color, ranging from colorless to black 

Saturation: The stone’s color purity, or the degree to which the gem is free of brown or gray hues 

Understanding color value is the first step to assessing this grading element. As a general rule, pure/strong colors yield the highest value. And in certain cases, some colors are more desirable than others. For example: a ruby’s most desirable color is a deep, bold red. A ruby with a slightly orangish hue would receive a lower “grade”.

However, a gemstone’s color appeal largely depends on the buyer’s preference. A transparent emerald might rank higher in color quality, but an opaque emerald with imperfections is uniquely appealing.

Gemstones often undergo heat treatment to improve their color qualities. This isn’t necessarily a trait to avoid, but a heat-treated stone is less valuable than a gem with naturally occurring color.


June Collection Willow Blue



A stone’s clarity refers to the internal and external imperfections of the stone. Sometimes these flaws are only visible under magnification, and sometimes they are visible to the naked eye. 

Because there is no universal grading system for gemstones, clarity can be difficult to judge. In this case, many utilize the diamond grading scale. Others use similar systems, listing gems as ‘clean’, ‘semi-clean’, and ‘reasonably-clean’, or ‘Type I’, ‘Type II’, or ‘Type III’. 

Most gemstones (natural or synthetic) have imperfections. This isn’t something to be afraid of—however, it is important to be informed. For example: external flaws can signify that a stone is more inclined to chip. Or notably, some internal flaws add to the stone’s beauty and won’t impact its durability. Ask your jeweler for an explanation of their grading scale/assessment so you can understand exactly what your stone displays. 



June Collection Lark 



A stone’s carat signifies its size and weight. Simply put, larger gemstones are more rare and hold higher value. The “right size” of stone is ultimately up to the buyer’s discretion. Budget, setting style, and aesthetic preferences all play a role and can be determined with the help of your jeweler.

Note that without the conditions of a brilliant cut (a diamond grading method), gemstones are often cut with deeper proportions. Buyers should consider the stone’s measurements in addition to carat weight when assessing its value.     

Understanding Gemstone Grading Scales

Although there is no universally accepted gemstone grading system, the most common is called the Alpha Scale. This system ranks stones on a combination of “the 4Cs” and assigns them a AAA, AA, A, or B grading.

AAA: The top 10% of gemstones and considered “near perfect”. These stones may have a bit of variation in color, but are exceptionally clean, well-cut, and polished.

AA: A higher level of imperfections, but will appear very clean to the naked eye. These stones yield a good cut and polish.

A: Fairly clean, with noticeable imperfections in clarity and color variation.

B: Low quality gemstones with surface flaws. We don’t work with this grade at June because it does not meet our quality standards. 

The Alpha Scale is one of many gemstone grading methods in circulation. We recommend every buyer makes an effort to understand their jeweler’s grading system before purchase.

Colored gemstones are a beautiful addition to any engagement ring. And although they aren’t as popular as diamonds, they can last the test of time with proper care and maintenance. Discuss with your jeweler the properties of your gemstone and browse our Gemstone Guide or Diamond Alternative Guide for more information.


With a dedication to fine jewelry crafted from quality materials, June creates modern heirlooms made to last. Shop our collection or create a custom ring with our design team.