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Frequently Asked Questions:

Why buy a loose gemstone from Mt. Lily Gems?

There are many reasons to purchase a custom-faceted gemstone. You may have been unable to find your particular birthstone in a setting that you like. The colored gemstones available at the local jewelery stores might not be the right color, shape, size, gem material, etc. Perhaps you want a stone that was mined in your own state, or country. Very important is the fact that custom-faceted gemstones, particularly those offered for sale by Mountain Lily Gems, show exceptionally fine craftsmanship; quality unequaled by native cut or automated machine cut stones. When high quality gem material is cut to exact angles and proportions, and given a fine polish, the resulting gemstone delivers exceptional scintillation and brilliance.

How do I go about having a loose gemstone set in jewelery?

The easiest way to have a gemstone set in a piece of jewelery is to take it to your local jewelery store and see if they have a metalsmith/stone setter on staff. Most jewelers will be able to offer a wide selection of precious metal settings to accommodate your purchase. For a more detailed outline of how to approach having a custom faceted gemstone set in jewelry; consult this page.

How do I judge the quality of a gemstone?

Like a diamond, the quality of a colored gemstone depends upon cut, color, clarity, and carat weigth.

What is a carat?

Gemstone weight is measured in units of the "carat." One carat is 0.2 metric grams. There are 31.1 metric grams in a troy ounce. For simple reference, a modern US penny weighs approximately 12.5 carats.

What is gemstone clarity?

Rough gem material is rarely flawless. It often contains tiny bubbles, cracks, veils, included bits of other minerals, etc. Gemstone clarity refers to the amount of these imperfections. Several sophisticated systems have been developed to grade or define the clarity of gemstones. Consult our clarity grading web page for a more detailed explanation.

How is gemstone color described and evaluated?

Color is easily perceived by our sense of vision, but very difficult to describe by word. Gemstone dealers use various systems to describe color. In one system the "color world" is a three dimensional structure consisting of hue (spectral colors such as red, yellow, green), tone (the impression of lightness or darkness), and saturation (the impression of strength or purity). A fine Columbian emerald might be described as: medium (Tone), strong (Saturation), very slightly bluish green (Hue). Verbal or numeric systems for color description are generally of use only to those in the trade. Gemstone dealers can use expensive spectrophotometers or inexpensive color reference sets to accuarately grade gemstone color. Trade publications are available that correlate gemstone color and price. The gemstone consumer can begin to appreciate the important correlation between price and gemstone color by visiting jewelery stores, gem shows, or various internet sites to make price comparisons.

What is pleochroism?

Colored crystaline gem materials display color by selective absorption of specific wavelengths of light. Depending upon the direction that light passes through the crystal, a gem material (or gemstone) may absorb more or less of these components. The gemstone may appear one color, or depth of color, when viewed in one direction, and a different color when viewed in a different direction. Iolite displays remarkable dichroism (pleochroism with two color components is called dichroism), but even more common gem materials such as sapphire, tourmaline or quartz can display observable pleochroism.

Different light sources (Sunlight, vs. incandescent light, vs. fluorescent light) contain different light wavelengths. Pleochroism is also responsible for the variable color appearance of gemstones when viewed under various light sources. This phenomenon is especially important to sellers and buyers of gemstones. Tanzanite displays remarkably different colors when viewed under incandescent vs. fluorescent light.

What is faceting?

Faceting is the process of grinding and polishing flat surfaces on a piece of rough gem material. Faceted gemstones have a large number of polished flats designed to reflect light back to the viewer's eye. Internal and surface reflected light cause the brilliance and scintillation observed from a well cut gemstone.

What is a "Native Cut" gemstone?

A "Native Cut" gemstone is a trade term used to refer to a stone, often of lower value and quality, that was manufactured in Brazil, India, Thailand, or some other foreign country. For a more detailed explanation of this term, consult my web page describing the difference between precision cut vs. native cut gemstones.

How do I know a gemstone is cut from natural material from a particular mine?

Unless you mined the gem rough yourself, and cut it yourself, there is a great degree of trust involved in purchasing a "natural" gemstone of any type. Read my in-depth explanation here.

How do I handle a loose gemstone?

Depending upon gem material, faceted gemstones vary from being extremely fragile (e.g. fluorite, Mohs hardness 4) to very durable (e.g. sapphire, Mohs hardness 9). Gemstones that are set in jewelery are normally of reasonable durability. However, if a sapphire, tourmaline, aquamarine, tanzanite, etc. is dropped on a ceramic counter top, tile floor, or any hard surface; the facet junctions can be chipped and the stone severely damaged. Most members of the public don't own plastic forceps or other custom stone holders that are used by gemstone dealers. As sold, colored gemstones are usually wrapped in folded paper, or packed in foam-lined plastic boxes. To view a gemstone, simply unfold the paper, or open the plastic container (Preferably over a carpeted floor, towel, etc.), and leave the gem cradled in the packing. This treatment will keep the stone free of fingerprints, and reduce the likelihood that the stone will be dropped. Remember; if a stone is damaged, it is an expensive proposition to have it repolished or recut. The typical policy of gemstone dealers is: "No refund on damaged goods."

How do I clean a gemstone?

If a loose gemstone is coated with fingerprints, simply take a clean piece of soft cotton fabric, fold the fabric, and gently rub the stone within the folds of the fabric (This is safe for stones with a Mohs hardness of 5 or greater). In case the stone falls free, do the cleaning over a towel or other soft surface.

What if I don't like the gemstone that I have ordered?

Before making a purchase, check the gemstone dealer's policy on returning goods. Most dealers have a prescribed period of time during which they will allow the return of a gemstone for a partial or complete refund. Remember, making a purchase by credit card offers an additional level of protection. Should a dispute arise between merchant and customer; the customer can contest the charge through their credit card company.