Armed with our new vocabulary and awareness of color we can begin looking at gemstones offered for sale and evaluate their color. We do this by asking a series of questions.

1. What color is our stone?
At this point you should be looking at the stone to determine the predominant hue of the body color. If the body color has a name you come up with, give it that label.

2. What are the overtones, if any?
After you have named the predominant color, try to determine the overtones and ask yourself if they are heavy overtones or light overtones? Do they modify the predominant hue a great deal or just a little?

3. In terms of color value, is this gem light, medium, or dark?

4. In terms of saturation, is this tone a good strong, pure: red … blue … green … pink?

5. Ask about shade if you are looking at more than one stone of the same kind in terms of lighter or darker — one stone as opposed to the other. Which shade do you prefer? Which shade is prettier? Which shade is considered better by the experts?

6. Can I see any pleochroism in this stone? Does it enhance or detract from the stone? What do experts consider most desirable regarding pleochroism in this species?

Keep in mind that some pleochroic stones show their pleochroism more than others and in certain stones pleochroism can be considered either a plus or a minus, while in others it makes no difference.

        The main objective in understanding color and asking and answering questions about a particular stone is for you to be able to make decisions based on what you observe. The more you consciously sensitize yourself to color, the more confident you will become in making decisions. Also, you will be able to discuss what you see with others, be they friends, relatives, or strangers. Most importantly, this knowledge enables you to hold your own with the vendor of the stone.