Every gemstone is unique. No two are exactly alike. The most perfect gemstone may not be the most beautiful one. Imperfections and irregularities can, indeed, be the difference between mere prettiness and heartbreaking beauty.
There are some basic principles you can observe that might help improve the likelihood that the affair with your gem is not only passionate but also long and satisfying.
First, buy from a respected jeweller or dealer. If you’re not sure where to start, ask around for suggestions. Word of mouth is usually an excellent way to get helpful, targeted suggestions, especially from like-minded friends or acquaintances.
Once you’ve found a seller you’re comfortable with and a gemstone you like, look closely at it. Take your time and don’t be afraid to get hands-on. Pick it up, hold it to the light, turn it around, tilt it this way and that. Ask for a loupe (a special gemmological magnifying glass) to peer inside. Your jeweller should be able to explain any small marks or blemishes you might see within the gemstone, and tell you how it relates to its composition.
Coloured gemstones are usually ‘treated’ to some extent to improve their appearance. Common treatments include heating (to enhance or even change colour) and filling (to disguise flaws and improve clarity). These are not necessarily bad things, but it is always worth asking your jeweller if your gemstone has been treated, as treatments can have a significant bearing not only on the value of a gemstone but also how you should set it and take care of it.
If you’re buying an expensive gem, ask for a certificate. If you’re still unsure, bring in an objective expert as a third party to verify the gemstone’s characteristics. Any reputable seller should welcome confirmation of what they’ve already told you.