I recently decided to buy a few loose gemstones on Etsy. Included in my haul was a .36 carat alexandrite (I finally got one!), a.14 carat Tanzanite (my first as well) a .57 carat Ruby and an 6×4 emerald cut Ametrine. Since this was an experiment, I kept my budget low (my total expenditure for the four stones plus shipping was $76.00).

When browsing, I looked at reviews and whether the seller offered returns or exchanges. I only bought from sellers who offered returns and exchanges and had excellent reviews. As none of these items offered any kind of authenticating paperwork, there is always a chance that the items are not authentic. I am very knowledgeable when it comes to gemstones, as I have completed many Graduate Gemologist courses, however I do not currently have the equipment to authenticate and grade these items. Before I set any of these items, I will have them authenticated and graded first.

The alexandrite arrived first. I was so excited to receive it, as I truly have only seen a few in my life, and I have never owned one. As noted in my previous column, top-quality Alexandrites are supposed to exhibit emerald-like color in sunlight and ruby-like color in incandescent light. However, for top quality like this, you will pay top dollar. I paid $19.99 plus $5.00 shipping, so I was not expecting much. This particular seller is from Bangkok, Thailand. I was drawn to this stone because of it’s reasonable price, and in the pictures the store used to advertise this stone, it showed a good amount of color change. When it arrived, my first impression was its beautiful green body color. It’s a slightly lighter color than a top-color emerald and I love it. Because of it’s small size, it is also very eye clean and it has a great cut. However, when I tried it under all kinds of lighting conditions, it was not exhibiting much of any color change, which is obviously Alexandrite’s best quality. This particular seller had great reviews, so I contacted the store and told them that while the body color was great and the stone was brilliant, it wasn’t exhibiting the color change shown in the picture. The seller’s response was quick, and they said to keep the stone I have and they would send out another free of charge. I will update the site when I receive the new item. I will also give the seller great reviews. My plan for this stone is to set it east-west in a simple white-gold band. Alexandrite is my birthstone, so I am pretty excited about this purchase. However, I will wait to do anything until I see what else this store sends me!

The next item I received was the Ametrine. Ametrines are not terribly expensive to start with, but this one was truly a bargain. It cost $1.99 – it cost more to ship than the stone itself! With a top-quality Ametrine, ideally you like to see a sharp line between the Citrine and Amethyst colors, and this stone shows those colors. I am very happy with this item. I will probably just keep it as a specimen to add to my collection.

The last items I received were the Ruby and Tanzanite. These came from the same seller, who is based outside of Las Vegas. The Tanzanite is tiny, but the color is outstanding. It displays great luster and is eye clean. I love the pear shape. I can see setting it east-west in a simple white-gold band suitable for stacking, which is one of my favorite jewelry trends. The Ruby is also pear-shaped and is a deep red. It is fairly eye-clean and is brilliant with a great cut. Given that Rubies are one of the Big Three of colored stones (Emerald and Sapphire being the other two), I was more than happy to pay $37 for it, plus the seller was offering a 10% discount when you spent $40 or more at their store. My eventual plan for the Ruby is to set it in a bezel-style white gold pendant.

All in all, I am very happy with my purchases. My best advice is obviously to spend time browsing for what you are looking for. Prices and quality of items on Etsy are all over the map. Many Etsy stores offer discounts, so take your time to look for those stores. Reviews are also extremely key. People are not afraid to post negative reviews if they feel they did not get what they were asking for. And since reviews are so important to the seller, take time to contact the seller if you are not happy – they will always work with you, because they do not want a bad review. All of the stores I purchased from encourage you to contact them if you are not completely satisfied with what you received. I would only consider buying from stores that offer refunds or exchanges as well.

This was an educational and fun experience! What has your experience with Etsy been? Are you a buyer or a seller? I would love to hear about your experiences!