Guide To Organizing Your Gemstone Collection
Your gemstone collection deserves to be organized and secure. You’ll not only find the pieces you’re looking for faster but also protect them from damage. That pile of precious stones may look opulent, but remember that gems have different hardness factors and can scratch each other over time. Some gemstones are also sensitive to environmental conditions or chip easily and shouldn’t be left casually exposed.
Consider your needs and your options carefully and choose the best system for protecting and displaying your prized investments.
Storage and Display Cases
There are many kinds of gemstone storage cases available for sale. You can find gemstone organizers with pullout drawers as well as display cases with glass tops that also allow you to show off your gemstone collection.
Plastic containers with dividers are a practical and inexpensive storage option.
One space-saving gemstone collection option is to store your pieces in a parcel paper organizer. These organizers are designed to hold industry-standard small paper envelopes called gemstone parcel papers or diamond papers. These envelopes are acid-free to help keep stones in top condition while in storage.
You can label the papers to identify their contents, and some suppliers can even provide different colored liners to augment the color play of specific gemstones. Some typical paper colors for popular gemstones are:
- Orange-Yellow: Emerald or Green Tourmaline
- Strong Yellow: Ruby
- Black: Opal
- White: Sapphire and Diamond
- Blue/White: Diamond
If you travel frequently with individual pieces or with a significant portion of your gemstone collection, consider lightweight storage containers, such as small plastic display boxes or specially designed traveling gemstone cases.
Preparing Your Gemstone Collection For Storage And Display
Before you store your gemstones, clean your gemstones. This is a critical first step. Our gemstone care guide and gemstone jewelry care series of articles are great resources for properly cleaning and caring for your collection. You can invest in a state-of-the-art storage case and industry-standard parcel papers, but if your gemstones are dirty, oil and grime will slowly diminish their beauty and value even if they’re tucked away securely.
Once you’ve cleaned your gemstones, you’ll need to consider how to sort your collection.
Start by grouping like with like. Separate your gems into piles by species. Use a jeweler’s tweezers to handle the gems to keep from soiling them again. You should also identify any individual stones that are particularly fragile and wrap them in jeweler’s tissue paper.
You can choose to keep your gemstones sorted by species, or you can subdivide them into size, color, origin (country, state, or mine), etc., or any other gemological or personal criteria. Be sure when the time comes to place your gems in storage that you keep harder stones securely separated from softer stones.
If you have gemstones you want to store individually, place each carefully inside a gem jar, bag, or envelope before placing it in the storage case. You can place small loose stones (of the same hardness) together inside a bag or envelope.
Cataloging Your Gemstone Collection
Label each jar, packet, or envelope with, at the very least, the gemstone name. (Small adhesive labels of all kinds are readily available if your containers do not include them). Of course, you can also include any other information you wish: weight, color, origin, appraised value, etc. Make sure to position the labels so you can read them easily. Alphabetical order is a practical way of arranging your pieces, but you can choose any system you like.
If you have a sizeable gemstone collection or plan to have one, or want to keep detailed data on all your acquisitions, you should consider using an application like Excel or Google Sheets to organize that data on a spreadsheet. Not only can you store a vast amount of information that you can easily search, sort, and update, you can even use it to help you locate a specific piece in your collection, if you take the following steps:
- Assign a unique ID number to each individually stored gemstone or lot of loose gemstones in your collection.
- Assign a storage ID to every “spot” in your storage space. For example, if you have three storage cases, label them “A,” “B,” and “C.” If each case has five drawers, label each drawer “1,” “2,” “3,” “4,” and “5.” (You can even label each compartment or jar in the drawer if you wish, “a,” “b,” “c,” “d,” etc). You can then record on your spreadsheet where each piece is located. For example, “A5” or “B1,” or “C2a.” You can consult your spreadsheet and find out which case, drawer, and compartment to open to find a particular stone. (If you add more cases or additional containers to a drawer, you can easily create additional storage IDs. A new case becomes “D.” A new jar in a drawer that already has four jars becomes “e,” etc.).
When you place each piece or lot in storage, record the storage ID next to the piece’s ID number in your spreadsheet. No matter how you later sort the spreadsheet, you’ll always know exactly where to find any piece.
As long as you return it to the right spot!