Determining Quality: The "Four C's" & Treatment
The beauty of a gemstone, as well as its quality, are direct functions of that gem's value. Quality can be summarized using a criteria often known as the Four C's: The color, the clarity, the cutting (proportions), and the carat weight. Treatment (or lack thereof) also comes into play when assessing both value and suitability for Jyotish prescription.
There are other factors that are intertwined with the Four C's. The relative rarity and international demand for these "Four C" components also greatly influence price.
One of the most important factors in determining a gemstone's quality is its color: levels of saturation, tone, and hue. Each one of these color differentials can dramatically influence a gem's value.
Let's use yellow sapphires as an example. Yellow sapphires are the primary gemstone for Jupiter, or Guru. The price of a 5-carat yellow sapphire can range from $4 per carat to $2,000 per carat. The most pure, potent, unheated yellow sapphires will have a high degree of flawlessness as well as a bright, rich color.
The best color for yellow sapphires is known as "lemon yellow." It is a moderately saturated yellow that is deeper than canary yellow diamonds. Lighter toned yellow sapphires will not be as powerful to strengthen Jupiter as more saturated, deeper yellow tones. (If the gem is golden in color than it is nearly always heated and undesirable. We will discuss treatment more below.) Undertones of green and brown will diminish the value of a fine yellow sapphire and are undesirable for Jyotish purposes.
Another equally important factor in determining a gemstone's value is its clarity. Fine colored gemstones should be eye-flawless when viewed face up and also when mounted. It is normal and natural to have minor inclusions. These minute inclusions can prove that a gem has not been heated, but should be so small as to only be seen with magnification.
There are always many more heavily flawed sapphires found at the mines than flawless ones, which makes sapphires of poor clarity much less expensive than highly flawless ones. These top quality gems are rarely formed by Mother Nature, however, they are undoubtedly the most potent and powerful stones to wear as they provide the best astrological results. Their rarity also makes them the most valuable sapphires in the marketplace.
The proportions of the cutting are also important. The cutting should be symmetrical with enough depth to ensure a brilliant gem. If the cut is too flat, it will not display the fire and brilliance that is desirable. Very flat cut sapphires sell for a small fraction of a beautiful, properly proportioned sapphire that can display the fine color and brilliance of the gem material. For example, a shallow cut sapphire might sell for only 30-50% of the price of a comparable well-cut sapphire with the same color and clarity.
Finally, the carat weight comes into play. This is the easiest to understand since it is a measure of weight. One carat weighs one fifth of a gram. The scale is linear, which causes many astrologers to make the common mistake of recommending larger carat weights, thinking that heavier gemstones are more powerful. The truth, however, is that the combination of color and clarity are the most important factors in determining value and astrological effectiveness. Quality, by far, outweighs the importance of the carat weight of a gem.
For Jyotish purposes, a 5-carat, heavily included yellow sapphire might be only 10% as powerful as a finely colored, flawless, well-cut yellow sapphire of 1.8 carats. Carat weight without consideration of color and clarity is meaningless!
There are many ways to treat or enhance a gemstone's quality, done to improve the apparent beauty and value of a poor quality gem. The practice of enhancing or treating gemstones is as old as recorded history. In modern times, the proliferation and sophistication of gemstone treatments has created many categories; virtually all of these are to be avoided for Jyotish.
Some methods of heat treatment can greatly change the color and the clarity of a sapphire. It's estimated that upwards of 98% of all sapphires are heated in up to five different ways. All types of heat treatment should be avoided for blue and yellow sapphires. Treating a poor-quality sapphire can give it a more refined appearance, enhance its clarity, and increase its value, but such stones are not effective for astrological purposes. Untreated, top quality gemstones (the ones most suitable for Jyotish) are exponentially more powerful and valuable than gems that have been enhanced to attain a similar degree of color and clarity.
In summary, the art of assessing the quality of a gemstone (and subsequently determining its value) is not an easy thing to learn. That's why the old adage exists, "Find someone you can trust with an impeccable reputation and do business with that trusted source." Many sellers of Jyotish gemstones do not have the required experience to avoid buying the wrong gems. This is especially true of jewelers, within India and elsewhere. Most have remarkably little understanding of quality, market value, treatments, and what really is important in order to get good results with gemstones. Further still, many simply do not care; profit is often the primary motive.
What we offer at AstrologicalGem.com is a trusted source for Jyotish gemstones reinforced by experience that few ever attain. Our intentions are to serve humanity with pure, powerful, Jyotish quality gemstones. We are knowledgeable, price-competitive, and delighted to be at your service.
Wishing you the very best,