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Table of Contents



What is a Gem? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Atoms and Crystals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Species, Varieties, and Mineral Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
The Colored Stone Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Production and Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Consumer Preferences and Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Treatments and Disclosure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Whats to Come . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Checking Your Progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
The Final Examination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Help Isnt Far Away . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Key Concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Key Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

2002 The Gemological Institute of America

All rights reserved: Protected under the Berne Convention.
No part of this work may be copied, reproduced, transferred, or
transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever without the
express written permission of GIA.
Printed in the United States.
Reprinted 2004, 2006
Revised and updated 2013

Cover photos: (clockwise) Donald Stampfli/AP Wide World Photos, John Parrish/Richard Krementz Gemstones

Facing page: Colored stones, like this exceptional Burmese ruby, entice buyers with their romantic history and captivating beauty.

Peter Parks/AFP

Colored stones have a special allure. For centuries, theyve been treasured
by maharajahs, emperors, and kings. They come from some of the worlds
most remote locations, where just a few bold adventurers dare to go.
Theyre mined in nearly inaccessible mountains and deserts, far from the
modern world of most jewelry consumers.
Many source countries are politically turbulent. A gems supply might
go from a torrent to a trickle overnight if a countrys government changes.
Such changes have dramatic effects on a gems price, availability, and
Although the Big 3ruby, sapphire, and emeraldhave the strongest
hold on consumers imaginations, other enticing gems also compete for
attention in todays marketplace. Some, like tanzanite and tsavorite,
were unknown until very recently. Others, like spessartite garnet and
cultured freshwater pearl, werent widely available until new sources

2002 GIA. All rights reserved.


Donald Stampfli/AP Wide World Photos

Welcome to the Colored Stones

course! This course will help
you build on the knowledge
you gained in Colored Stone
Essentials. When youve successfully completed the course:

Youll have a solid foundation

of colored stone knowledge.

Youll be able to apply the

basic principles of gemology
to judge the color, clarity, and
cut of colored gemstones.

Youll be familiar with most

August Theodor Schoefft/Christies Images Inc.

Gems have been coveted by royalty throughout history. An Indian maharajah displays
his priceless treasure of rubies, emeralds, and pearls (above). The magnificent
emerald and diamond jewelry (left) once belonged to Catherine the Great of Russia.

major gem treatments.

Youll understand the structure

of the colored stone industry,
from mining through production
and marketing, up to final
retail sales.

Youll qualify for positions such

as gem laboratory staff, sales
associate, assistant buyer, and
customer service representative.

The study of colored stones is not just about gemology. The economics
of supply and demand are just as important. Todaymore than at any time
in the pastthe number of new gems and new gem sources makes it
necessary for the people who work with colored stones to be better informed.

In Colored Stone Essentials you learned how to sell colored stones at

the retail level. Colored Stones will take you farther down the supply
chain. This course blends the science of gemology with current product
knowledge and practical trade examples to give you the information you
need for a successful career in the jewelry industry.


Tino Hammid/GIA

Harold and Erica Van Pelt

Michel Viard/AFP

New sources can increase a gems availability and enhance its position in the
colored stone market. Examples are Chinese freshwater pearls (above) and East
African fancy sapphires (top right), which are much more available today.

A miner is the first to recognize a colored

stones value. Like many gems, these
sapphires were extracted from a remote
location using primitive mining methods.

This course will serve as a guide to the multitude of colored stones in

todays market. Youll learn how wholesalers, gem cutters, and miners
judge and market them. Youll discover which gems are most commercially important and why. Youll understand the value differences among
gems. Youll gain insight into the shifting patterns of colored stone supply
and how they affect gem prices and availability.
Whether you work in retail or in the wholesale colored stone industry,
this course will give you the information you need to sell more colored


Ralph Gabriner/Maija Neimanis

This contemporary necklace features a combination of organic and inorganic gems. The pearls were produced by a living
animala molluskwhile the aquamarines and peridots were derived from non-living matter.

InorganicComposed of, or
arising from, non-living matter.
OrganicProduced by, or derived
from, a living organism.
Natural gemsGems produced
by natural processes, without
human help.


What are gems made of?

What is a mineral?

How do gemologists classify gems?

Almost all the colored stones youll encounter in this course form in the
earth. Theyre inorganic, which means that theyre composed ofor arise
fromnon-living matter. Some other gemslike pearl, coral, amber, and
ivoryare produced by living organisms, which means that theyre

Whether gems form within the earth or from animals or plants, theyre
referred to as natural gems. This distinguishes them from materials
produced in a factory or laboratory.


Jeffrey Scovil

Each gem is built from a specific combination of atoms of different types and amounts. This combination is called chemical


All gemsinorganic and organicare made up of atoms. Atoms are the

basic structural units of matter and the smallest units that retain the
characteristics of a chemical element. Chemical elements consist of only
one kind of atom, and combinations of them make up and color gems.
Chromium atoms, for example, color ruby red, and aluminum and oxygen
atoms build its crystals.
The kinds and relative quantities of atoms that make up a material
comprise its chemical composition. Each gem has its own unique chemical
composition. Emerald, for example, is a precise combination of beryllium,
silicon, aluminum, and oxygen atoms.

AtomThe basic structural unit of

all matter.
Chemical elementA substance
that consists of atoms of only one
Chemical compositionKinds and
relative quantities of atoms that
make up a material.

Knowing about the atoms and their arrangement within a gem will help
you understand its physical properties, right down to the sharpness of its


Building a Crystal


combined atoms

crystal structure


Peter Johnston/GIA

Atoms are the basic building blocks of all matter, including crystals. Different kinds
of atoms combine in different ways to form gems of all kinds.



Most gems are minerals.

To be a gem, a mineral must be
beautiful, durable, and rare.

facets and the perfection of its polish. The types of atoms a gem contains
and how theyre combined determine everything you see when you look
at a gem and how it feels when you handle it.

Almost all the gems used in jewelry are minerals. Minerals are natural, inorganic substances with characteristic chemical composition
andusuallycharacteristic structure, too. Synthetic gem materials
arent minerals because theyre grown in a laboratory rather than in the


Jeffrey Scovil

Most minerals lack the beauty, durability,

and rarity to be gems. Out of the 3,000
minerals on earth, only about 100 qualify
as gems. Emerald is one of them.

Robert Weldon/GIA

The mottled gray patches and brassy

specks in these lapis lazuli specimens
are the minerals calcite and pyrite. Lapis
lazuli is classified as a rock because it
consists of more than one mineral.
Robert Weldon/GIA

Chromium is the chemical element that gives these rubies their vibrant red hue.

While most gems are minerals, very few minerals qualify as gems. To
be a gem, a mineral must be beautiful, durable, and rare. These three
factors are what make a gem desirable. Of the more than 3,000 minerals
discovered so far, only about 100 qualify as gems.

Some gems are rocks, which means theyre made up of masses of

mineral crystals. Some rocks, like marble, are composed of crystals of a
single mineral, but most contain more than one kind. An example is lapis
lazuli, which is made up of the minerals lazulite, calcite, and pyrite.

MineralA natural, inorganic

substance with a characteristic
chemical composition and usually
characteristic structure.
RockA natural material composed of masses of mineral
crystals of one or more kinds.


SilicateA mineral that contains

the elements silicon and oxygen.
Crystal structureRegular,
repeating internal arrangement
of atoms in a material.

Robert Weldon/GIA

Many gemstones are silicates, which means they contain a combination of silicon
and oxygen. Quartz is one of the simplest silicates because its composed almost
entirely of those two elements.

Many of the most common minerals, and virtually all of the rocks near
the earths surface, are silicates, which simply means that they contain the
elements silicon and oxygen. Most quartz gems are composed almost
solely of silicon and oxygen. Thats why the term silica is sometimes used
to describe quartz. The list of gems that are silicates also includes beryl,
garnet, tourmaline, jadeite, spodumene, and opal.
Minerals almost always form as crystals. A crystal is solid matter
with atoms arranged in a regular, repeating, three-dimensional pattern
called crystal structure, or crystal lattice. A crystal can be natural or
Most transparent gems are cut from one large crystal. Other gems


Ted Spiegel/Corbis

Albert J. Copley/PhotoDisc

Amorphous gems, like opal (top) and

amber (bottom), lack the orderly crystal
structure thats found in gems like ruby
and emerald.

Jeffrey Scovil

The pattern of a gems atoms is called its crystal structure. This tourmaline crystals
orderly internal structure is reflected externally in its symmetrical shape.

like turquoiseare made up of many tiny crystals that might not be visible
to the unaided eye. Still others, like lapis lazuli, are made up of mixtures
of different mineral crystals.

AmorphousLacking a regular
crystal structure.

Many rocks are intergrowths of clearly visible mineral crystals.

Architects choose granite for the facades of many buildings because of the
decorative effect of its differently colored, interlocking crystals.
While the majority of colored stones are crystals, there are some
important exceptions. Fire opal appears to have the same transparency as
many other gems, but it lacks a regular, repeating crystal structure.
Gemologists describe gems without a regular crystal structure as amorphous. Amber is another amorphous gem material.


Gem speciesA broad gem

category based on chemical
composition and crystal structure.

Shane McClure/GIA

Gemologists classify gems into broad categories called species. This suite of rough
and cut gems from Sri Lanka includes the gem species spinel, zircon, chrysoberyl,
and corundum. Each one has its own chemical composition and crystal structure.


As you learned in Colored Stone Essentials, gemologists divide natural

gem minerals into gem species. A gem species is a broad gem category
based on chemical composition and crystal structure.
The mineral species beryl, for example, is made up of a regular, repeating structure of beryllium, aluminum, oxygen, and silicon atoms. Those
atomsin the proper arrangement and relative quantitiesalways define
that mineral species. But the broad species name isnt enough to describe


Tino Hammid/GIA


Zircon is a gem species with many color varieties (right). A zircon is classified by its
color and species nameblue zircon, green zircon, etc. Peridot (above) is a species
with a narrow yellowish green to greenish yellow color range, so it has no colorbased varieties.

the wealth of colorglorious greens, blues, pinks, reds, and yellowsof

a gem species like beryl.

Gemologists use the term variety to describe these color variations.

Variety is a subcategory of species, based on color, transparency, or
phenomenon (a phenomenon is a special optical effect, like the star in
star sapphire, or the blue sheen in moonstone). In the beryl species, for
example, aquamarine is the most widely known blue variety, and emerald
is the highly prized green variety.

Gem varietyA subcategory of

species, based on color, transparency, or phenomenon.



Understanding Group, Species, and Variety


The garnet group,

a family of closely
related mineral


Andradite, one of
several important
species of gem


Demantoid, the
green variety of
the species
Peter Johnston/GIA

The garnet group is a family of gems with the same crystal structure and the same
basic chemistry of aluminum, silicon, and oxygen. Their differences lie in the other
chemical elements they contain, which give them differing colors and properties.

GroupA family of gems from

several closely related mineral

Sometimes, several gem species differ only slightly from each other.
Because theyre so similar, gemologists might classify them as a group. A
group is a family of closely related mineral species that share the same crystal structure and basic chemistry, but differ slightly in other details. These
differences often lead to differences in physical and optical properties.
There are many mineral groups, but only a few contain important gem
species. The best-known gem groups are garnet, feldspar, and tourmaline.
The important species in the garnet groupalmandite, pyrope, spessartite, grossularite, and andraditeshare the same crystal structure and



Joel Beeson/GIA

Van Rossen/Columbia Gem House

The garnet group includes stones of dramatically different colors, like these striking
green (top) and purple (bottom) examples.

basic chemistry, but they have slight differences in chemical composition.

For example, almandite is rich in iron, while pyrope contains significant
amounts of magnesium. Youll learn more about this in Assignment 24.
A gems rarity can be an important part of its value, and that rarity is
very closely related to the way it forms within the earth. For example, the
formation processes that produce red garnets are far more common than
those that produce ruby. Another factor is that some gems contain more
widely available elements than others, so theyre more prevalent. Youll
learn more about how gems form in Assignment 2.


Dave G. Houser/Corbis

A gems rarity almost always affects its value. Garnets are so plentiful in Wrangell,
Alaska, that youngsters unearth the rough crystals and sell them for pennies per

A gems rarity and beauty affect how its marketed. These factors also
affect its value. They are just as important to understand as things like
crystal structure and chemical composition.


How are mining and marketing different for diamonds and

colored stones?

How does the supply of a gem affect its marketability?

How do treatments impact the sales of certain colored stones?

Theres a greater selection of colored stones available today than ever

before. And new cutting techniques present familiar materials in interesting ways. Because theres more choice, jewelry designers have to catch
customers eyes with distinctive products and designs.
A fine ruby can provide the warmth that a diamonds icy beauty cant
match. Even so, diamonds are economically more important than colored
The US is the worlds largest gem-consuming market, followed closely
by Japan and Europe. In 2010, US domestic consumption of polished
diamonds exceeded $18 billion. By comparison, the US domestic market
for natural, unset, non-diamond gems was $542 millionjust a fraction
of the diamond total. Imports of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires made up
the majority of that figure.


John Parrish/AGTA

John Parrish/Richard Krementz Gemstones

Colored stones are more popular today than ever before. Gems like garnet, rubellite,
and tanzanite can act as attention-getting centerstones in contemporary rings (above).
Others like citrine, peridot, and moonstone can be combined into colorful bracelets
(right) and other jewelry pieces.



Ralph Gabriner/Jane Bohan Inc.

New sources often introduce new gem materials that can be combined in interesting
ways. A designer combined rose-colored pearls and a rose-cut pink tourmaline with
18K gold to create this elegant jewelry suite.

Part of the reason for the huge economic difference between diamonds
and other gems is that diamond is a single gemstone, while the colored
stones category includes many different gems. This makes diamond easier
to market. Until very recently, virtually all of the worlds uncut gemquality diamonds were marketed through one agency, De Beers Central
Selling Organisation (CSO)now called the Diamond Trading Company
(DTC). De Beers has spent many millions of dollars on global diamond
advertising for decades. Theres no such single marketing agency for
colored stones.


Diamonds enormous popularity is

due in part to De Beers widespread
and well-organized promotional efforts.
The marketing of colored stones, in
comparison, is inconsistent and

Tiffany & Co.

Diamonds are an extremely important part of the jewelry industry. Even colored stone
jewelry is often accented with diamonds.

Diamonds are also featured in many more types of jewelry. Even if a

fine sapphire or emerald forms the centerpiece of a ring, its almost
always surrounded by an array of diamonds.
Multinational mining companies invest hundreds of millions of dollars
and take many years to develop diamond mines, but the potential profits
are enormous. The developers of Canadas Ekati mine spent more than
$700 million for development and early operation, but the estimated value
of the diamonds in the ground is more than $8.6 billion dollars.


Peter Essick/Aurora

Bill Bachman

The enormous scale of Botswanas Jwaneng diamond mine (left) would overpower
any colored stone operation. Companies invest billions of dollars on elaborate,
mechanized systems and heavy equipment (above).



Many colored stones are mined by

independent miners using small-scale
mining methods.

Many diamond deposits are vast enough to sustain mining for decades.
For example, the Jwaneng mine in Botswana is essentially a gigantic pit,
1.24 mi. (2 km) long, 0.62 mi. (1 km) wide, and 650 ft. (200 m) deep.
But its the worlds most profitable diamond mine, with more diamonds
per ton of ore than any other mine in Africa. Between 1973 and 1997,
production from this mine alone amounted to more than a billion dollars.
Because of the size of their potential output, most diamond mines are
massive industrial operations. Mining of this size and scope is almost
unknown with colored stones. Most colored-stone mining operations are



Rakotosaona Nirina

Michael Freeman/Corbis

Most colored stone mining operations are primitive, like the corundum mines
in Madagascar (right). Individual miners, like these men in Thailand, recover the
majority of gems by sifting through mud and gravel in search of treasure (above).

small in scale, worked by individual miners who are working to feed their
families and hoping for a chance at a better life.
Also, unlike diamond mines, colored stone deposits can be mined
sporadically for centuries or exploited to exhaustion in just a few decades.
Youll learn more about colored stone mining in the next assignment.
Even though theyre not as economically important as diamonds,
colored stones generate many billions of dollars worldwide, not only for
the nations that mine and process rough gems, but also the manufacturers,
wholesalers, and retailers who turn them into jewelry products and sell
them to consumers.
Since the late 1990s, the best-selling colored stones have been blue
sapphire, tanzanite, ruby, emerald, cultured pearl, pink and green tourmaline, fancy sapphire, tsavorite garnet, opal, amethyst, aquamarine, and
rhodolite garnet. These gems are more popular than otherslike peridot,
blue topaz, and zircondue to a combination of factors. One is their
availability, in terms of quantities produced. Another factor is their
marketability, which often affects, and relies on, consumer preferences.
The third factor has to do with treatments and their ethical disclosure.

Bellini & Co.

Today, designers create contemporary

jewelry that features the most popular
colored stones.

As youve seen, most colored stone mines are small-scale operations

in remote areas, often with outdated technology and machinery.
Communications and infrastructure might be poor. In addition, many
mining areas have difficult climates and a prevalence of malaria and other
diseases. These deposits are generally worked feverishly for short periods
of time and then abandoned when they become less profitable or more
challenging to mine.


Christies Images Inc.

The two vibrant rubies in this ring are

from Mogok, Myanmar, known for producing the worlds finest rubies. Political
upheaval continues to interrupt supply
of these coveted gems.

Both by Wendy Stone/Odyssey

Colored stone production fluctuates partly because it typically involves small-scale

mining in remote locations with poor infrastructure (top). Markets have learned to
adapt to the perpetual rise and fall of gem supply (bottom).


These mining practices lead to temporary abundance of a particular

gem, followed by a shortage. This fluctuation in supply usually produces
wild price swings that make a gem difficult to market.
Politics and changes of government in producer countries can have a
drastic effect on gem production. For centuries, the Mogok region of
Myanmar (formerly Burma) was the worlds most important source of
fine rubiesknown as Burmese rubiesthat commanded high prices
in upscale jewelry salons and auctions. In the 1960s, a military coup in
Myanmar caused this supply to shut down.
Neighboring Thailand also had ruby mines, but the market generally
preferred the bright Burmese rubies to darker Thai rubies. Rapid advances
in heat treatment made Thai ruby attractive, and suddenly Thailands
ample supplies of smaller, cheaper rubies were just what the market
needed. Thai ruby supported the industrys needs for more than two
decades, but by the late 1980s, even those supplies began to run out.
In the meantime, miners found a rich new ruby deposit in Myanmar.
This deposit became the most important source of ruby during the 1990s.
In the space of thirty years, the worlds premier ruby supplier had
switched from Myanmar to Thailand and back to Myanmar again.

Vincent Pardieu/GIA

New sources, like this sapphire mine in

Ilakaka, Madagascar, contribute to rising
gem supplies worldwide. Rising and
falling supplies affect the gem market in
many ways and at many levels.

The Burmese rubies of the 1960s were notably more intense than the
darker, redder ones from Thailand that became so commercially important
in the 1970s and 1980s. When Thai ruby ran out in the early 1990s, dealers
had to change back to Burmese rubiesthis time from a different source
in Myanmarwith subtle differences of their own.
Each time the source changed, colored stone wholesalers and dealers
had to educate their customers to accept changes in ruby price, general
appearance, and quality. Because the jewelry industry clings to tradition

Both by Michel Viard/AFP

Thailands corundum mines were mostly exhausted by the 1990s, but the country
remained a premier corundum cutting and manufacturing center. In Bangkok, workers
fashion sapphires (right) and other gems, then set the stones in jewelry (above).




An appealing name can make a gem

much easier to sell.

and doesnt accept change very readily, it takes time for wholesalers to get
jewelry manufacturers and retailers to accept stones of noticeably different
appearance than the ones theyre used to. This is just one example of how
changes in supply can affect the colored stone market. Consumer demand
is another factor.

As you learned in Colored Stone Essentials, ruby, sapphire, and emerald

have romantic histories that link them to the rich and famous. But other,
lesser-known gems might also attract consumers imaginations from time
to time.
Gem colors pass in and out of fashion just like clothing colors do. Warm
earth colors, russet browns, and peach shades, in gems like citrine and
zircon, might be in favor temporarily to complement a seasons fashions.
Delicate pastel shades of peridot, aquamarine, and pink tourmaline might
be one years favorites, only to be replaced by stronger, bolder primary
colors the following year.
Sometimes, clever marketing can greatly boost a gems popularity. For
this to succeed, the gem must be available in sufficient quantity to market,
and it must be sufficiently attractiveor have some special qualitythat
consumers will find desirable. It must also have a name thats marketable
and easy for consumers to remember, or its name must be already well
established, like ruby and sapphire.
The history of tanzanite can help you understand the relationship
between supply, demand, and marketing. The gem is an attractive blue
variety of zoisite thats mined in the African country of Tanzania.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Edward Owen/AP

Wide World Photos


Robert Weldon

Both ruby and emerald have enjoyed steady consumer demand for ages (left).
Some lesser-known gems, like this assortment of earth-toned stones (above), pass
in and out of fashion along with clothing colors and styles.


In the 1960s, Tiffany & Co. created a marketing campaign for tanzanite that inspired intense demand for the newly discovered gem.

An upscale jeweler invented the name tanzanite in the 1960s to market

the gem as an alternative to fine sapphire. The association with the famous
jeweler added status to the gems highly marketable name.
Unfortunately, tanzanite had only a single source, so its supply was
easily upset by external events. In the 1970s, the Tanzanian government
took over the mines, and supplies declined considerably.
At first, because demand for the gem was still strong, prices rose as
wholesalers competed for the diminishing supply. Less tanzanite reached
the consumer, and retail prices increased sharply. When prices reached a
certain level, consumers resisted paying the price, and promotion of the
gem stopped. Tanzanite slipped from public awareness and became a gem
sought by only a privileged few.
In the 1980s, the Tanzanian government lost control of the tanzanite
mining area, and thousands of independent miners swarmed in. Chaotic,
illicit miningunauthorized by the owners of the landbecame
rampant, and large quantities of small, inexpensive tanzanites were
readily available. Supplies of the gem burst back onto the international
gem market. Previously high prices plummeted in the face of an abundance
of stones.

Ralph Gabriner/Jane Bohan Inc.

Tanzanite prices rise and fall depending

on the gems availability. In the 1970s,
tanzanites like this 2.00-ct. cushion
cut were extremely expensive because
Tanzanian government regulations
limited production.





Changes that take place in a gems

source country can drastically affect its
availability and price.

Angelique Crown/GIA

Because Merelani Hill, Tanzania, is the only known source of gem-quality tanzanite,
the gems supply is easily disrupted by floods and other natural disasters.

By the 1990s, supply became more regular and prices stabilized. The
demand returned as gem marketers embraced tanzanite and promoted
tanzanite jewelry enthusiastically. Television home-shopping channels
introduced tanzanite to millions of US homes.
Then in the late 1990s, tanzanite mining conditions worsened. Sudden
rains in 1998 brought catastrophic flooding that drowned many miners in
underground tunnels. This interrupted the gems supply once more. Youll
learn more about this event and about other effects on the tanzanite
market in Assignment 21.




Treatments improve the marketability and

availability of many gems.

Both by Michel Viard/AFP

Heat treating gemstones to improve their appearance is a widely accepted practice.

Thai workers seal sapphires in ceramic pots before plunging them into an oven (top).
After treatment, the stones glow from the intense heat (bottom).


Until fairly recently, the average consumer wasnt aware that most
commonly available gems are treated to make them marketable. If it
werent for treatments, many gems might be affordable to only the
wealthiest consumers. For example, some unappealing white sapphire
rough can be turned a beautiful blue by careful heat treatment. Treatment
has become an important issue for many consumers, and media publicity
about gem treatments can affect the sales of some colored stones.


Both by Henry A. Hnni

Heat treatment can turn dark, nearly opaque corundum rough (left) into bright,
transparent, valuable rubies (above).

The emerald market suffered from negative attention in the 1990s when consumers
learned that sellers were not disclosing that most emeralds were treated to improve



Emerald is an example of the way treatment and public information

issues can affect sales. As youll learn in Assignment 15, most emerald
rough is fractured by the stresses of formation and mining. As a result, most
finished emeralds are treated in some wayusually by filling with oils or
resinsto improve their apparent clarity. In the late 1990s, emerald treatments received the attention of the media, and the negative publicity
reduced consumer confidence in that gem.
High-profile court cases and consumer unease about treatments
affected emerald sales. In spite of this, gem importers brought about
$143 million of cut emeralds into the United States in 2002. And emerald
remains the number one colored stone import into the United States in
terms of value.



In spite of treatment thats sometimes

extensive, emerald is the number one
colored stone by value imported into
the US.
Most consumers accept gem treatments
if theyre ethically disclosed and explained
in a positive way.

Treatment is just one aspect of the fascinating world of colored stones.

And if you approach the topic correctly, it isnt a barrier to sales. Most
consumers readily accept gem treatments if theyre ethically disclosed
and explained in a positive way.

Eric Welch/GIA

Gem treatments must be disclosed clearly and ethically to maintain consumer confidence.



Eric Welch/GIA

With eLearning, you can complete assignment questionnaires online and get almost
immediate feedback about your progress.


How is this course structured?

How can you get the most benefit from this course?

The Colored Stones course is made up of three main sections. Following

this assignments introduction to the world of colored stones,
Assignments 2 through 6 show how a gems formation affects its rarity
and value and how a gems properties affect its value and the way its used
in jewelry. Youll also read about synthetics and imitations and learn how
the marketability of many gems can be transformed by treatment.
Assignments 7 through 11 introduce you to the factors used to judge
gemscolor, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Youll discover how gems
reach the marketplace and how the gem business works.
Assignments 12 through 27 cover the major commercial gems in order
of their importance. The assignments cover them all, from the Big 3


Dave Bartruff/Stock, Boston Inc./PictureQuest

To succeed in the complex colored stone industry, you need product knowledge as
well as an appreciation of the mystical beauty that makes each gem unique.

ruby, sapphire, and emeraldand other market basics like cultured pearls,
jadeite, opal, quartz, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline, and garnet, to lesserknown gems like spodumene and diopside. Youll also learn which gem
colors the trade prefers and why.

The questionnaires youll complete in Colored Stones are great ways to

determine what youve learned and what you might have missed. The
questionnaires also give GIA an idea of your progress.


Another terrific way to check your progress is to take another look at

the Key Terms and Key Concepts at the end of each assignment. If you
run across a term or concept that isnt clear to you, you can easily turn
back to the part of the assignment where its discussed in detail. Just look
for its mention in the margin.
Now that youve finished Assignment 1, complete the first questionnaire. Its important to do the questionnaires as soon as you finish the
assignments, while the information is still fresh in your mind. That way,
theres less danger that youll forget important facts.
Taking the GIA Colored Stones program
through eLearning allows you to learn
essential product and market information
in the environment of your choice.


There will be a proctored final exam at the end of the course. You must
complete each questionnaire with a minimum score of 75 percent in order
to take the final exam. You can schedule your final exam when youve
completed and passed all the questionnaires. Then, to receive your
Colored Stones certificate, you must score at least 75 percent on the final.
When you reach the end of the course, you can access the final exam
instructions by clicking the link in the left-hand column of the eLearning
page. Make sure you read them carefully. You dont need to schedule the
final until youre nearly finished with the course.

Your GIA instructor is just a quick email message or phone call away,
Monday through Friday. GIA instructors are gemology experts with many
years of trade experience. Theyll answer your questions, clarify any parts
of the text that youre unsure of, and help you with study hints. Youll also
get feedback from your instructor in the form of comments that accompany the answers to your questionnaires. Save these comments to refer to
when you review for the final exam.
By using all the resources available to you as you progress through this
courseand others you might take in the futureyoull get the most out
of your GIA eLearning experience.
Now its time to take the next step in your journey through Colored
Stones. Because the way a gem forms has such an impact on its rarity and
eventual value, Assignment 2 concentrates on formation and mining.
Youll see why some gems are fairly plentifuland therefore inexpensivewhile others are much more rare and costly.





Most gems are minerals.

Treatments improve the marketability and availability of many


To be a gem, a mineral must be beautiful, durable, and rare.

Many colored stones are mined by independent miners using
small-scale mining methods.
An appealing name can make a gem much easier to sell.

In spite of treatment thats sometimes extensive, emerald is the

number one colored stone by value imported into the US.
Most consumers accept gem treatments if theyre ethically
disclosed and explained in a positive way.

Changes that take place in a gems source country can

drastically affect its availability and price.

Key Terms
AmorphousLacking a regular crystal structure.
AtomThe basic structural unit of all matter.

InorganicComposed of, or arising from, non-living


Chemical compositionKinds and relative quantities

of atoms that make up a material.

MineralA natural, inorganic substance with a characteristic chemical composition and usually
characteristic structure.

Chemical elementA substance that consists of

atoms of only one kind.

Natural gemsGems produced by natural processes,

without human help.

Crystal structureRegular, repeating internal

arrangement of atoms in a material.

OrganicProduced by, or derived from, a living


Gem speciesA broad gem category based on

chemical composition and crystal structure.

RockA natural material composed of masses of

mineral crystals of one or more kinds.

Gem varietyA subcategory of species, based on

color, transparency, or phenomenon.

SilicateA mineral that contains the elements silicon

and oxygen.

GroupA family of gems from several closely related

mineral species.



Each of the questions or incomplete statements below is followed by several possible answers. Choose
the ONE that BEST answers the question or completes the statement. Then place the letter (A, B, C, or D)
corresponding to your answer in the blank at the left of the question.
If youre unsure about any question, go back, review the assignment, and find the correct answer. When
youve answered all the questions, transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

A gem produced by, or derived from, a living organism is



Which of the following is an organic gem?




A substance that consists of atoms of only one kind is a




unit cell.
gem species.
chemical element.

A natural, inorganic substance with a characteristic chemical composition and usually

characteristic crystal structure is a(n)

chemical element.


IF YOU NEED HELP: Contact your instructor through the GIA Virtual Campus, or call 800-421-7250 toll-free in the US and Canada,
or 760-603-4000; after hours you can leave a message.



Most gems are



A natural material thats made up of a mass of one or more kinds of mineral crystals is a



A broad gem category based on chemical composition and crystal structure is a



chemical element.

Which of the following is amorphous?




gem variety.
gem species.

Which of the following is a gem variety?



________10. Which group does almandite belong to?






________11. The worlds largest gem-consuming market is


United States.

________12. Synthetic gem materials


are organic.
are not minerals.
are usually amorphous.
are classified as minerals.

________13. To be a gem, a mineral must be beautiful, durable, and



________14. Many colored stones are mined by


large corporations.
massive industrial operations.
mechanized systems and heavy equipment.
independent miners using small-scale mining methods.

________15. Media attention in the 1990s regarding its treatment reduced consumer confidence in



The Gemological Institute of America gratefully acknowledges the following people and organizations
for their assistance in gathering or producing some of the images used in this assignment:
Varujan Arslanyan, 3 (top right)
Bob Johnson Collection, 7 (top right)
Gary Bowersox, 7 (bottom right)
Cynthia Rene Co., 22 (right)
Mr. Davenport, 7 (left)
Diamond Promotion Service, 17 (right)
Evan Caplan & Co., 10
F. Joseph Kremer, Goldsmith Inc., 15 (right)
Jack Halpern Collection, 6
David Humphrey, 10
Kaiser Gems, 15 (right)
Kings Ransom, 3 (left)
Richard T. Liddicoat, 8
Maija Neimanis, 4
N.D. International, 10
Shades of the Earth, 5
Tiffany & Co., 23 (top)
Traditional Jewelers, 27
Wayne Thompson Collection, 9 (left)



1. Introduction
2. Gemstone Formation and Mining
3. Gems and Their Physical Properties
4. Gems and Light
5. Synthetics and Imitations
6. Treatments
7. The Colored Stone Market
8. Color
9. Cut
10. Clarity
11. Carat Weight and the Gem Business
12. Ruby
13. Blue Sapphire
14. Fancy Sapphire and Phenomenal Corundum
15. Emerald
16. Pearl Formation, Types, and Market
17. Pearl Value Factors, Processing, and Treatments
18. Jade
19. Opal
20. Quartz and Chalcedony
21. Tanzanite, Iolite, Chrysoberyl, and Andalusite
22. Topaz and Beryl
23. Tourmaline, Peridot, and Zircon
24. Garnet and Spinel
25. Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, and Other Opaque Gems
26. Feldspar, Spodumene, and Diopside
27. Organics and Collectors Stones

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