Choosing the right loose gemstones for jewelry making can often be challenging and frustrating. Whether you are simply making your own custom jewellery pieces, for your own enjoyment or attempting to run a small or startup business, the knowledge curve can be relatively steep. The truth is sometimes it really isn’t just about getting the right colour or type of gemstone. Although colour really is an important factor (if not the most important!) you still have to make sure that the gemstone and cut is a good fit for the setting.
Since whatever you end up buying will not only need to be functional, but also fit your design and sense of style, here are some key points to consider when buying gems for custom jewelry.
The problem with understanding the durability for a gemstone is it often gets mixed up with “hardness”. The hardness of the stone typically refers to how hard a stone is on the Moh’s scale. For the moment disregard the technical aspects of this discussion and just understand that “gemstone hardness” simply refers to its ability to resist scratches. The stone will still break or cleave easily in the event of being dropped (depending on the gem). So hardness doesn’t actually make it “hard” but rather scratch resistant. In fact, some of the hardest gem stones, on the Moh’s scale, are actually quite at risk of breaking if dropped or bumped solidly.
So there really is more to picking loose gemstones for jewelry making than just looking at the hardness rating. In fact, the overall suitability for a stone requires taking a look at the toughness, hardness, wearing ability, cleavage, and sensitivity. This is typically something that takes a bit of research but thankfully our learning section has plenty of information on individual stones to cover these questions for you.
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Cost and Affordability
Another of the big issues you will need to decide upon early in your selection process is how much are you actually willing to spend. Obviously we would all love to have that rare ruby or emerald sitting in the middle of some huge diamond accents but the reality is that not many of us, me included, can afford to pay $20,000 a carat! So, unfortunately, compromises must be made in the name of financial sanity. Thankfully, there are plenty of options no matter what your colour choice or budget is. In fact, some of the nicest “rubies” I have seen are actually Rubelite Toumaline which can be had for a fraction of the cost of an actual high quality ruby. London Blue Topaz is another option for those that are blue sapphire lovers and is actually quite cheap at anywhere from $10 to $50 a carat.
So don’t let the price of stones defeat your purpose! a custom and beautiful piece of jewellery just for you.
Sizing and Choosing Gemstone Shapes
The other major consideration when you are looking to source a high quality stone is the size and shape of the gem. It really comes down to whether you buy your gem or setting first which dictates your choice. Typically, if you are looking to get a setting custom made then the size of your gemstone is likely to decide the shape and size of the setting. However, these day’s you are actually able to buy your own jewelry settings on sites like Etsy and the reality is that it is relatively easy to set if you get the right sized stone. The rule of thumb is normally a setting or mounting will work if it’s within around 0.5 mm in size. Also, both ring and pendant settings often come in standard sizes like 8×6 which makes it relatively easy to buy gemstones to fit.
So whether you are seeking to mount an 10 x 8 oval cut Ruby or whether its a standard 6 x 4 stone in a drop earring setting you are normally able to find something to fit.
Sometimes it is all about size when looking for loose gemstones for jewelry making!