Best Places to Buy Gemstones Online 2022

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There are two schools of thought when buying gemstone jewelry: buy a complete set or buy loose gemstones. Jewelry enthusiasts believe buying a complete set is old school—though a lot of people still do it. But the “new school,” which involves buying loose gemstones, is catching up. So if you want to get in step with the latest trends in jewelry, keep reading to know the reason for this changing trend. You will also get to know the best places to buy gemstones online 2022.
But before that, let’s get into the reason for the change in trends…

Best Places to Buy Gemstones Online 2022

Gemstones are popular for a reason—they are unique, sparkly and very durable. These make them ideal for inclusion in jewelry pieces. If you are into gemstones and have been for sometime, knowing the best places to buy gemstones online will definitely make it much easier for you to look for gemstones.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the best places to buy gemstones online and provide tips on how to make your purchase not only simpler but a good one.

Cons of Buying Gemstone Jewelry

While buying finished gemstone jewelry is the easiest way, it is not necessarily the best and cheapest way. Here are the reasons why:

Simpler and cheaper

Buying a loose gemstone is simpler and more hassle-free than buying a ring or pair of earrings. You get to choose your cut, shape, color, clarity, etc. Your focus is on the stone, nothing else. And in most cases, loose stones are cheaper than pre-set gemstones.

You can see its true value

When a gemstone is already set, its inclusions may be hidden and sometimes the color is changed due to the material used in setting the stone. It is for this reason that gemologists grade loose stones, not set stones. it makes their job easier.

Whereas if you buy loose stones, you can see their entirety—inclusions and imperfections and color—the real quality of the stone.

Freedom

Buying loose stones is an exercise of freedom of choice. Most high-end stores do not make unique jewelry but dozens or hundreds of the same jewelry items. By buying loose gemstones and having them set by an independent jeweler, you have control over their design and features. You will be wearing something unique.

Now that it’s dispensed with, let’s get to the topic of…

What are Gemstones

Gemstones are minerals, rocks, or organic (or inorganic) materials that, because of their beauty, durability, and rarity, are cut and faceted to make jewelry or other adornments. Most gemstones are formed as minerals under various conditions in the rocks of the Earth’s crust, while a few form deep in the Earth’s mantle.

gemstones market share
Gemstone market share, worldwide

The crust is made up of three kinds of rocks—igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. All gemstones are mined in the crust (except, perhaps diamonds). After mining, they undergo a process to transform these “rocks” into rough gemstones.

At the evolutionary stage, gemstones are classified according to:

Species and varieties

Gemstones have varying groups or species based on their crystal structure and chemical composition. For example, some essential gemstone species have beryl, corundum, garnet, quartz, and tourmaline (like the one in this Perle de Lune review) contents. Further, some species may have special coloring or features like some varieties of ruby and sapphire. Still, some gemstones don’t belong to any group or variety like peridot, zircon, topaz, and spinel.

Some gemstones are more common than others. And supply varies in proportion to demand. For example, if you are wondering “what is the rarest gemstone on Earth 2022?” the hands-down winner is the blue diamond. Currently, it fetches at $ 3.93 million/carat.

Colors

Gemstones come in a variety of stunning beauty and shades of color. Some may not look appealing in their rough state; they may look like ordinary rocks. But when cut and polished by a skilled craftsman, they display their full colors and luster. Generally, gemstones with clear, medium tone, intense, and saturated primary colors are the most preferred.

tourmaline
Tourmaline – one of the most colorful gemstone

Clarity

Gemstones are formed below the Earth’s surface under the most violent and tumultuous of conditions. As such, it is unavoidable that they show some traces of other minerals, called inclusions—small spots or imperfections within the stone that become more obvious after the polishing stage. When viewed under a microscope or an eye loupe, they can give information about the geological environment in which the mineral was formed.

Inclusions can often identify a gemstone’s origin, or prove whether the stone is natural or synthetic. They are also a major factor in determining a gemstone’s price and value.

Gemstone Classification

In the jewelry world “gemstone” is a generic term used to describe a stone or material used in jewelry. Therefore, it can mean:

Mineral or non-mineral gemstone

  • Mineral gemstones occur naturally in the Earth’s crust. They are inorganic substances with characteristic chemical compositions and crystalline structures.
  • Non-mineral or organic gemstones come from living organisms like animals and animals that, through natural processes, have become beautiful gemstones such as pearls (like the one in this Perle De Lune review), corals, ambers, and ivory.

pearls

Precious or semi-precious gemstone

One of the major properties of a gemstone makes it fall under the category of being precious or semi-precious.

Precious gemstones have beauty, durability, and rarity. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires (such as the one in this JARED review) fall under this category.

All other gemstones with only one of two of the above qualities are non-precious gemstones. However, at the end of the day, they are all marketing terms designed to make specific stones seem rarer or more important than others.

Natural or synthetic gemstone

Natural gemstones are, of course, those found in nature. They are those mined from deep within the Earth. They are sometimes enhanced to increase their beauty and luster. Enhancing often involves heat or delicate chemical processes. Depending on the type and extent of enhancement, the value of the stone may be affected.

Synthetic gemstones are those grown in laboratories or lab-grown. They are made by human hands using the most sophisticated and advanced equipment and technologies. For all intents and purposes, they look exactly the same as their natural counterparts, even having the same chemical composition. But since they don’t have the “rarity” factor, they are always less valuable.

Synthetic gemstones
Synthetic gemstones

Nowadays, nearly all natural gemstone has a synthetic counterpart.

Simulant Gemstones

These can be anything that resembles or looks like a natural gemstone but does not have the same physical characteristics or chemical composition.  They are fake gemstones and are often made of glass or plastic that an experienced jeweler can easily detect.

How to Buy Gemstones

More and more people are buying loose gemstones for a variety of reasons. One is freedom of choice. People often shop for jewelry based on gemstones, not on settings. So by buying a loose gemstone, you open up unlimited options for the setting, i.e, type of metal, design, color, and so forth.

Another reason is price. Loose stones are generally cheaper than mounted ones. And a possible third is that you are starting a jewelry-making hobby.

Whatever your reason is, always remember these things when you do:

  • Carat is the gemstone weight. It is also one of the bases for determining a gem’s price – the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone is.
  • Cut describes how the stone is “cut” into different facets. It is often mistaken for “shape,”—the geometrical shape of a gem, i.e. square, round, pear, marquise, etc.
  • Clarity is the degree of inclusions present within the stone or its surface imperfections, in short, its “flaws.” It is next to impossible to find a gem that is perfectly clear. So settle for an “eye-clean” level of clarity.
  • Color is something you might find confounding. Gemstones come in more color and color combinations than the rainbow. And each species has its own unique color and hues. Further, some gemstones are heat treated to enhance their natural colors.

Except for carat weight, all the above are judgmental. And unless you have deep knowledge of these things, choosing the best gemstone will entirely be dependent on your personal choices.

Is It Safe to Buy Gemstones Online?

Online shopping for gemstones, or any other commodity for that matter, has become a trend these days. It has become the new normal. But you must tread it with caution. Online scams have become a major crime in the 21st century. Should you want to go into this, remember this one thing: never buy from an online store without a “Return” policy. Other than that, here are a few more tricks to remember so you won’t get scammed:

Calibrate your monitor

No two people perceive color the same way. The same thing goes for computer monitors. So have a technician calibrate your computer monitor to make sure that what you see on the screen is the exact color of the stone you want to buy online.

Don’t rely on stock photographs

Once you’ve decided on a specific item, use your search engine to view different photographs of the item. Don’t be surprised to see the same image of the same item on so many websites.

Go for a website that has a brick-and-mortar store

If you can help it, never buy something that you saw on a social media ad. More often than not, these online businesses don’t have what it takes to serve your needs such as customer service, handling of returns, or repair and maintenance. They may not even have full contact information.
Buy from a website with a physical store you can visit and look around; talk to jewelry experts so you can be guided accordingly.

Choose an accredited online store

Once you settled on a website, check it out with the Better Business Bureau to see if you are dealing with an established company with a positive track record. In addition to this, check if it belongs to any professional organization like the American Gem Trade Association.

Best Places to Buy Gemstones Online 2022

When you have gone this far, the pretty obvious question is “where can I buy good quality gemstones online?”
More and more people are buying gemstones and jewelry online. Not only is it convenient, but it offers a large inventory to choose from. You can access online stores from the comforts of your home and delivery is right at your doorstep.
However, online stores present a different problem—quality control.
As a hedge against this problem, you must confine your shopping to online stores with a proven track record of quality and credibility—like the following (arranged according to worldwide traffic):

Etsy

Etsy is not only a single online seller but an aggrupation of 2.5 million online sellers. You can just imagine the great diversity of product styles and quality. While not all Etsy sellers sell quality, a great number of them do. It means that you may have to do a little bit more digging.

Etsy is the cheapest place to buy gemstones, like a $2 citrine geode, or go as high as $63,000 for an emerald necklace. 

Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth is at the forefront concerning ethical diamonds and other jewelry items. In this aspect, Brilliant Earth prides itself as a vendor of ethically-sourced diamonds and other gemstones. and in the use of eco-friendly materials.

The jewelry store is solid in every criterion you are looking for in an online vendor. It carries a catalog of very high-quality and diversified jewelry and gemstones.

Blue Nile

Established in 1999, Blue Nile is one of the first online jewelry vendors to establish itself as a powerhouse in the online niche. Early on, Mark Vadon, Blue Nile’s creator realized it makes better business sense to list gemstones, and jewelry items on its website, then buy them when an order is placed online. This business model skipped the retailers and huge inventories.

The Blue Nile has an excellent range of birthstone jewelry and fine gemstone jewelry. It offers very competitive prices compared to other online vendors. They also have excellent images for most of their stocks to give potential buyers a real virtual experience. And they are known for their excellent customer service as well.

James Allen

James is one of the most recognizable names in jewelry, worldwide. And since 2006, it revolutionized the online retailer niche with its excellent jewelry presentation, high quality, and excellent customer service.

The jewelry store is one of the big reasons why online jewelry shopping has become as trusted and popular as it is today. It introduced into the business its ridiculously high image quality. And the shop carries the best names in jewelry and gemstones as well—like which brand is best for gemstone? That’s the Bulgari.

Bulgari gemstone jewelry
Bulgari gemstone jewelry

Angara

Angara has a wide assortment of diamond and gemstone jewelry, with most of them catering to the women’s market. The name is taken from Sanskrit, which means The Fire Within, and its collection of diamonds and gemstones live up to its name in terms of quality and brilliance.

One unique selling point of Angara is that it allows you to choose your gemstone quality: from good to heirloom quality.

Helzberg

Helzberg, established in 1915, is one of the oldest jewelry chain stores in the US.  As of today, Helzberg has more than 100 years of doing business and more than 200 stores in the US, including a very nice online store.

As an online store, Helzberg has a smaller collection compared to the aforementioned online jewelry stores but is vast enough to satisfy anyone’s taste such as men’s and women’s jewelry of all types, i.e., wedding and engagement rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets and more.

Online Gemstone Shopping: The Way to The Future

Online shopping has become an accepted fact. And this has gained momentum due to the pandemic lockdown. These days, everything can be bought online—from teeny-weeny household items to gemstones, jewelry, and other items way beyond one’s imagination. Is there an upper limit to all these? None as far as the immediate future is concerned.

Now that you know where to shop for gemstones online, you might be interested in purchasing specific pieces like sapphire jewelry. If so, read our guide, “10 Best Places to Buy Sapphire Jewelry Online 2022.”

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