When I was young, I really wanted to be an interior decorator. Every wall in my house was painted white, except for my room, which was a soft buttery yellow. When I was about 7 my mom decided to hire an interior decorator for this one room in our house, and I still don’t know why that room was picked, as it was the least formal communal room, containing our tv and my father’s desk. The decorator ended up wall papering one wall, and took about 6 months to coax my mom into painting the rest of the walls a light peach color. I never understood the color scheme in there, and still don’t, but I loved the idea of giving a room some personality through color, shape, texture and furniture arrangement.
I have mentioned on social media that I’ve been in the midst of home renovations. My family and I recently purchased a home that was built in the 1970s, and as a result, requires a bit of work to update the place. I’ve been getting a lot of grief about the colors I’ve chosen for the house. I really decided to go all out for this house and I’m not holding back in the color department, with deep emerald, pale periwinkles, vibrant teal, violet and a vivid green, to name some of the more exciting colors.
But I’ve come to realize that color is one of those things that’s highly subjective, and everyone’s opinion is going to vary based on a lot of factors. The most controversial color is surprising to me – a pale green. The reasons I chose it aren’t important, but the strong reactions to it have been startling – it’s a pale minty bluish green, reminiscent of Baskin Robbins’ Mint Chocolate Chip, but lighter (kind of like the above garnet). In my opinion, a pretty innocuous color.
But that’s the thing, color can have unexpected visceral reactions and people are going to love and hate the same colors, and sometimes won’t even be able to explain why they are having the reactions to the color that they are.
So here is a little bit about color terminology for gemstones. I’ve gone over some of these terms before, but it’s always good to have a refresher.
Hue: the color of the stone. “Purple” “blue” “red” “teal” are all hues.
Tone: lightness to darkness of the stone. “Deep in tone” connotes that a stone may have a darker color. “Light in tone” connotes a pale or pastel shade.
Saturation: how much color/pigmentation a stone has, the intensity or vividness of a color. “light” “medium” “intense” “vivid” are all terms that can be associated with saturation.
Modifier: if the stone has a strong primary color, the secondary (or even tertiary colors) are called modifiers.
I would describe the above spinel’s color like this: Blue in hue, with medium-dark tone, medium to strong saturation, with a slight green-gray secondary modifier. This stone also shifts to a purple under fluorescent lighting, the rest of the information stays the same in both colorways.
The most highly sought after stones in the colored stone universe are going to be pure of hue, medium in tone and with vivid saturation. A little gray goes a long way to making stones be within a more reasonable price range with typically a barely perceptible difference.
So, I’ve been posting less to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc because I’ve been busy painting and painting and painting. Good thing it’s a labor of love but I will be so happy when it’s over! I have some exciting things planned for the coming weeks, including a Q&A feature with someone in the gemstone world, and a couple fantastic custom projects I’ve been working on over the last few months. I have fun stuff coming up for 2016 too, and I can’t wait to share those things with you as the year progresses!
I decided to put together a glossary of sorts of gemstone terms, or terms that I use relatively often and might not be familiar to those who aren’t well versed in gemstone and jewelry terminology. Something I wish I had when I was first learning!
This is an endlessly growing and changing document, and will need continuous updates to keep it useful. Please let me know if any suggestions for terms, or comments you might have!
Adularescence – milky glow that moves as the stone moves, originates from within a gemstone and is caused by inclusions, occurs in the presence of stronger light conditions.
bezel set – a way of setting a stone with solid metal completely surrounding the stone, pushed down over the stone’s girdle
brilliance – amount of light reflected back out of a gemstone, a direct result of a stone’s refractive index
brilliant cut – a facet design radiating from the culet of the stone, on a perpendicular plane from the girdle of the stone
cleavage – tendency for a mineral to break along distinct planes dependant on how the mineral grows
colorless – a stone that is not known for being without color, having zero saturation. Examples: sapphires, spinels, garnet, tourmaline, topaz
crown – the facets from the girdle up to the table, the height from the girdle to the table
culet – the pointed tip of a stone formed by pavilion facets. Antique diamonds may have “small” “medium” or “large”. Modern cut diamonds typically do not have a culet, the pavilion facets meet at a point.
dispersion – the ability for a gem to divide the light into spectral colors
facets – a flat plane cut onto a gemstone
fat belly – when a pavilion is cut to preserve weight, instead of forming a cone, it is more bulbous and round on the bottom
fire – see dispersion
fluorescence – reaction of trace minerals causing the stone to glow a specific color when exposed to UV light, typically blue, yellow and red
girdle – the circumference around the stone where the crown and the pavilion facets meet, it can range from very thin to very thick, and can be faceted or rough.
keel – an edge formed by pavilion facets. typically found in elongated cut stones
kozibe effect – culet reflected around the stone
luster – light reflected from a gem’s surface
meet – the edge in which is made when two facets line up in faceting
monochrome – varying tones of one color, white-gray-black
MRB – modern round brilliant
OEC – Old European Cut
OMC – Old Mine/Miner’s Cut
pavilion – the bottom part of the stone, typically cone shaped
pleochromism – the characteristic of having different colors visible from different angles
RI – refractive index
Rose cut – stone cut into a dome type shape with a flat bottom/no pavilion, and the crown is a hexagon shape with triangular facets, meeting in a low angled point on top, typically cut in a round shape, but may also be cushion, pear, oval or marquise.
saturation – how pure and intense a color appears. Low saturated tends to be gray, highly saturated is vividly colored.
silk – the appearance of a stone looking slightly cloudy, which bounces the typically caused by inclusions referred to as silk,
spread – the size of a stone when looking top down, measured by the diameter of the girdle. Typically used to compare one stone to another.
step cut – a facet design on a parallel plane from the girdle of the stone, typically angular in shape. Emerald, baguette, carre, asscher are common types.
tilt window – when a stone is viewed at an angle that is not straight down into the stone, and you can see through the pavilion
table – the flat top facet of the stone
window – when a stone is cut at the wrong angles for it’s type, the see through portion in the middle is called a window