Monday, 11 August 2014

Grading Gemstone and Semi-Precious Beads. What does it all mean?

If you’ve ever bought semi-precious or gemstone beads you might have noticed that there are all kinds of grading systems in use. One shop might grade from A-D and sell Amethyst beads as A grade, another might grade from AAA-B and sell them as AAA or even A+. So, which is the best? 

At BeadShopUK we often get asked about grading gemstones, so hopefully this article will clarify a few things.
A Grade Amethyst beads?

The first point to bear in mind is this: when it comes to semi-precious stones there is no standard, internationally recognised system for grading as there are for precious stones such as diamonds, which are graded according to cut, colour, clarity and carat.

Effectively it’s up to the factories and retailers to grade their own products, and they all use different grading systems. If you’ve ever been confused by this then you’re certainly not alone!

The second point to remember is that one shop’s A Grade Amethyst might be described as B or even C grade by another shop. Same quality, different grading system.

The sad fact is that people want to sell you their items and it sounds great if the stone is A Grade, or even better AAA grade. So, try to find a reputable supplier with whom you can build a relationship and who will answer your questions on what grading system they use.

Grading starts with the rough material.  The highest grades are usually reserved for cutting individual faceted stones and it is the C and D grade material (sometimes referred to as “bead” grade) which is used for cabochons and beads.  Sometimes you will see beads which are classed as “facet grade” – these would be of the highest quality and the price would reflect this!  Most of the other beads on the market would be cut from the C and D grade material.

Finally, the key to understanding grading is to ask lots questions, read up about how gemstones are formed and how they are manufactured because it’s up to you to decide what’s the best quality for your needs.

B Grade Amethyst beads?

Anyway, you shouldn’t be put off by a lesser grade. Some stones may have inclusions in them, meaning they don’t grade highly, but those inclusions are what give the beads their colour and texture and can look absolutely stunning in a piece of jewellery. The key is to find what works for you.

As a supplier of semi-precious beads, we at know it can be a minefield when describing stones. After all, one man’s A grade is another’s B grade. So we don’t subscribe to a formal system of grading.
Faceted Amethyst Gem

Instead we aim to sell only very good quality beads and let the customer know exactly what they are buying by taking clear photographs.

When we do have the same stones of different quality we mark the better ones A Grade and the lesser quality as B Grade.

In some instances when we have received some very bad quality stones we won’t bother selling them online at all because we don't want to disappoint our customers we only want to ship excellent quality items. Instead we sell them in our pound box when we go to a bead fair.

You can go to our website and see how we sell our Amethyst Beads.

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