Gemstone Ratings

By on November 7, 2014
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by Judy Ellis,

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
November 7, 2014

Today we answer a question from another of our readers. I’m sure many of us have had the same question at one time or another – so hopefully this will be a great reference as you continue working with Gemstones.


Some sites advertise gemstones or pieces of jewelry with “A” ratings, i.e., “A”, “AA”, or “AAA”. Is “A” better quality than “AA”?


Gemstone ratings are as follows:

  • AAA = exceptional stone with excellent color, great cut resulting in lots of light getting through and the top rating for precious stones such as sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.
  • AA = top quality stone, great color, little if any visible inclusions and usually the best rating for semi-precious stones like citrine, amethyst and garnet.
    A = good quality stone that has very few inclusions, good color, transparent and has a nice cut that lets light through to sparkle.
  • B = ok but not top color, still transparent stone with light inclusions.
  • C = usually not consistent color throughout the stone, inclusions are visible to the naked eye and stone is not as transparent so it doesn’t sparkle much.
  • D = low value stone with major visible inclusions and usually rather dull as they are less translucent.Jewelry is usually rated according to the stones it is made with/of.

To see what other enhancement codes mean, see our AGTA guide below:

American Gem Trade Association Enhancement Codes
Enhanced, which describes any of the following:
Assembled into single stones created with two or more separate pieces
Coated with lacquer, enamel, foils, etc.
Dyed to intensify color or uniformity
Filling added to the surface with clear glass, plastic, or borax
Heated to alter color, clarity, and/or phenomena
Heated and pressurized to affect color and clarity
Impregnated with plastic to improve durability
Lasers and chemicals used to alter inclusions (this one is for diamonds)
Oil fills the surface fissures to improve appearance; wax and resin also used in this technique
Irradiation (gamma and/or electron bombardment) is used to alter color.
Synthetic-manmade, but created with the same composition and structure as the real thing
Diffusion-a chemical/heat treatment to produce color and/or phenomena
Wax or oil is introduced to opaque or translucent stone to improve appearance

Test your knowledge and take a look at our One-of-a-kind gemstones:

We have blue, yellow, green, purple and other colors of stones in a variety of sizes. These gemstones will look simply gorgeous in any jewelry piece. You can wrap them in many different ways in necklaces, bracelets and much more!

And don’t forget¬† to look at our One-of-a-kind pendants.

Each pendant is individually-photographed to show its unique qualities, and each has a hole that measures approximately two millimeters. You’ll love our selection of gorgeous stone choices like Ocean Jasper, Mushroom Rhyolite, Desert Zebra Jasper, Icy Agate, Peacock Jasper, and Regency Plume Agate, just to name a few!

Happy Wrapping!


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  1. avatar

    Sue Johnson

    November 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for this informative guide. I try to check the ratings before purchase & definitely use this in my pricing. I also list this in my description of a piece, if it’s been available to me. I’ll put this in my studio, next to the computer & a copy I can carry with me to the different gem/bead shows for a reference. Thanks, again.

    Sue Johnson, owner

  2. avatar

    Carolyn DeMetz

    November 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I agree totally with the list for the value and quality of Gems. One thing I also add to my list about a particular gemstone is, the float of color in a gem stone or lack there of. I know it’s a flaw and devalues a stone, but when I am making a one of a kind design I find myself looking for that flaw and design around it. I have quite a following for this very reason. It’s not like the norm or the value isn’t quite there, but the overall beauty of the piece can make it stand out. Just my note for what it is worth. I absolutely want a pure gemstone as it is in nature.

  3. avatar

    John Gonzales III

    November 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Very good information and much needed at your fingertips in your studio.
    You threw me on the first two stones!! :-)

  4. avatar

    Theresa Hanley

    November 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I will use this as a reference also including it in verbal descriptions of my pieces for client education purposes.
    Terri Hanley
    Hand of Isis Atelier