The world of high jewelry turns very slowly; yet some time in the mid to late 1990s, classic precious colored gemstones - emeralds, rubies and blue sapphires, the traditional components of such haute creations - suddenly appeared to be sidelined by a kaleidoscopic flurry of fresh colored gems. High jewellery, rather like couture at that point, had begun to seem anachronistic, and needed a serious fillip of relevance and meaning. Sapphires, rubies and emeralds were suffering from, among other maladies, their long association with staid, diamond-rimmed cluster design.
Now, however, the “Big Three” colored gems, the grandes dames of high jewellery, are back in the game. A timely combination of factors is responsible. First and foremost, their extreme rarity speaks to today’s unstoppable quest for the truly exceptional. Then, improved laboratory testing and certification have restored confidence - and investment potential adds a final seductive sheen to the whole proposition.
In short, high jewellery is returning to its roots, retaining its design dynamism but giving the most precious and historical gemstones the attention they deserve. Only the most rare alternative stones, once termed semi-precious, such as spinels, kunzite or imperial topaz, are carried along in the tailwind of this new appreciation for color. The bar was set by Bulgari’s latest high-jewellery collection, which revitalized its flair for courageous color through necklaces showcasing immense sapphires: one of 165.81 carats anchoring ropes of rubellites, garnets and emeralds, another of 180.98 carats, mingling with 278 carats of emerald beads.
This reinvigorated desire for traditional gems is symptomatic of shifts in both the industry and client demand. Important colored gemstones are now perceived as the ultimate in rarity, and therefore the ultimate in portable assets with high investment potential. Some emeralds, for example, are 20 times scarcer than diamonds of the same quality.
Moris Hadjibay, co-owner of Bayco, a fine-jewellery company specializing in gold and silver as well as rare precious stones, says that prices for fine, unflawed, beautifully cut gems have more than doubled in the past three or four years, and that over the past six months alone, top-quality emeralds have risen by 50 per cent. Dublin-based Guy Clutterbuck, an intrepid, old-style gem hunter, who looks as though he has come straight out of central casting and who deals with smaller, ethical, artisanal mines, says prices have risen 30-40 per cent in the past two years - and rightly so, he believes, especially in the case of sapphires, which have been undervalued for some time. Rare Coins, Silver Coins, Gold Coins >> http://www.silver-
Indeed, the premium put on rarity is one of the two most important drivers behind the focus on color - perhaps the most influential factor in jewellery today. Exceptional natural-colored gemstones, of superb hue and substantial size, are very scarce and getting more rare all the time, despite new discoveries. Hadjibay says that, for example, only 1 per cent of all Burma rubies (from present-day Myanmar) are of fine quality, and flawless examples are almost impossible to find.
The other driver is legacy: the appeal of heritage stones, early treasures from the fabled mines of Kashmir, Myanmar and Colombia, which are either extinct or simply don’t produce gems of the same quality as yesteryear. Merchants and jewelers avidly search out “estate” antique or vintage stones at auction or in private/family collections, while Alisa Moussaieff, one of the most powerful international stone purchasers, buys back from her own clients. David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department for Europe and the Middle East and of Sotheby’s Switzerland, was expecting high demand for a pair of 1921 ear clips, possessing royal provenance and set with top-color 11ct Burma rubies, at a sale in Geneva on November 14. (In the event, they far exceeded their estimate to fetch SFr3,330,500 - about £2,239,931.)
There is one more element in the mix: diamonds have enjoyed the limelight since the celebratory sparkle of the millennium, reaching astronomical prices (apart from 2008, when they took a dive but then recovered). Enthusiastic and canny buyers in lucrative new markets have, on the whole, already put together their wardrobes or portfolios of mega D flawless white and colored diamonds; now, they’re ready to move on to the challenges and charms of fine colored gems. With increased knowledge, they realize, too, that these jewels offer a stunning opportunity for growth. My advice is to buy gold and silver gemstone jewelry as a hedge against inflation and as a safeguard for your wealth. How High Will Silver Go? Learn More >> http://silver-