Gemstone trends: cool colours and cuts for 2016

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Author:  Rachael Taylor

Source: The Jewellery Editor

Whether it’s a quirky setting, an unusual cut or a colourful stone, these gemstone trends for 2016 stand out from the crowd.

There is no doubt that, when it comes to jewellery trends, the popularity of coloured gemstones has skyrocketed. No longer are the windows along Bond Street or Place Vendôme achromatic pockets of diamonds, but bouquets of colour, and according to Bonhams, the prices achieved for coloured gemstone jewellery have risen 2,200% in the past 10 years.

“Coloured gemstones continue to appeal immensely to our customers looking to invest in fine jewellery, with pieces featuring coloured diamonds and multi-coloured gemstones constantly growing in popularity,” confirms Helen David, fashion director at luxury London jewellery destination, Harrods.

See more fine jewellery available at Harrods

This year, there has been a very clear trend within coloured gemstones – a desire for blue stones. The shimmering black opals set into the Capri jewels of the Acte V collection by Louis Vuitton; the mesmerising Paraiba tourmaline set into a Chopard ring unveiled at Paris Couture Week; the clusters of turquoise and aquamarine worn around the neck of Cate Blanchett at the Oscars, plucked from the Tiffany Blue Book collection.

Hinatuan ring set with labradorite by Biiju.

But what will next year hold? “I think we’ll continue to see the trend for organic shapes, rough cuts and textures,” offers Joanna Boyen, who runs jewellery brand Biiju, which allows shoppers to customise designs online by selecting composable gemstone elements. “I think it’s going to get very interesting, with more of the unusual stones taking centre stage. It’s an exciting time because consumers are much more aware and more accepting of these stones now, and with bespoke and personalised jewellery being so much in demand, having a statement stone which is different and a talking point is very attractive.”

As well as choosing stones that are lesser known, one of the ways to make a statement with gemstones is to opt for an unusual cut over a classic cut. The shape of the gemstone might look the same at first glance, but peer into the stone and you may be able to see unusual facet work underneath it, such asSheldon Bloomfield’s large aquamarine cocktail ring.

Some new jewellery designs for 2016 even have smaller gemstones hidden beneath the main gem. Suzanne Kalan jewellery, which recently launched at Harrods, includes wonderful pieces that layer transparent stones such as topaz and quartz over clusters of round brilliant or baguette diamonds.

The Caged collection by Melanie Georgacopoulos traps pearls inside golden cages.

Another quirky twist in the realm of jewellery trends is overprotective settings. For these designs, gemstones are wrapped inside extra, often diamond-set, fronds of metal, such as Kiki McDonough’s Luna collection, or trapped inside cages such as the pearls in the Caged range of Melanie Georgacopoulos jewellery. And Brazilian jeweller Moritz Glikoffers an interesting line with diamonds or coloured gemstones trapped inside sapphire glass cases.

For London jeweller Gee Woods, coloured gemstones have become very popular with her clients – particularly yellow hues of sapphires, citrines and diamonds – but she says that demand for unusual stones also applies to diamonds. “Recently I’ve noticed clients seem to be looking for something a bit more exciting than a modern brilliant cut,” she says. “I’m being asked to find old mine-cut diamonds, fancy coloured diamonds and interesting cuts.”

Whether your choice of gemstone jewellery in 2016 will be set with white diamonds or one of nature’s cornucopia of coloured gemstones, just make sure that you opt for something that makes you stand out.

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Diamonds are forever but here and now coloured gemstones are cutting edge

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Source: The Guardian

US demand underpins record prices achieved for rubies and sapphires by Gemfields and other luxury goods specialists

Author: Angela Monaghan
The Guardian, Friday 12 December 2014

For those prepared to throw money – quite a lot of it – at the ideal Christmas present this year, the gift of choice is no longer white diamonds, but coloured gemstones.

The market for coloured stones is on fire, with record prices being achieved for rubies and sapphires. At its latest ruby auction in Singapore, Gemfields achieved an average price per carat of $689 (£438), with total sales of $43.3m from its Montepuez mine in Mozambique. Both figures were records for the London-listed miner and luxury goods specialist.

Last month, Sotheby’s set a new world record for a ruby when it sold an 8.62 carat Burmese stone for 8.2m Swiss francs (£5.4m). The auction house also set a new world record for sapphires at a recent auction in Hong Kong.

Diamonds may be forever but there is nothing new about the appeal of coloured gemstones, which were worn by Wallis Simpson and are favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, who wears the 12-carat Ceylon sapphire engagement ring once owned by Diana, Princess of Wales. Rare and beautiful as they may be, Cailey Barker, mining analyst at Numis, identifies a number of factors pushing up gemstone prices lately, including rising demand in the world’s largest economy.

“Gemstones have been performing well mainly because of jewellery buying on the street, predominantly led by the US,” she said. Gemfields’ marketing has been very successful, according to Barker, partly helped by the fact that it also owns the luxury jeweller Fabergé. “It’s a chicken and egg situation. There is demand, but Gemfields is also creating the demand.”

The company has introduced a grading system, allowing jewellers to match colours and reassure consumers about the quality of the stones. Another key to success has been providing a consistent supply of something that is inherently rare and difficult to source.

Gemfields specialises in emeralds, owning the world’s largest emerald mine in Zambia, but it also produces amethysts from Zambia and rubies from Mozambique.

New sources are being found for coloured stones. Burma was traditionally considered the main source of high-quality rubies; Mozambique is a relatively new supplier.

The company, whose chief executive is Ian Harebottle, can take the stones all the way from the ground to the jeweller – known in the male-dominated trade as the “mine to mistress” approach. “What De Beers does for diamonds, we do for colour,” he said.

Where stones are auctioned, the sale is a very select affair, according to Harebottle. A typical emerald auction would attract 100 potential buyers hoping to get in, but admissions are limited to about a third of that. A ruby auction might attract about 200 would-be buyers but only about 50 will be selected to attend.

Harebottle said it was important to sell to the right buyer. “These gems are extremely rare, much rarer than a diamond. I’d hate to sell to someone who is going to cut it badly. This is not just a fly-by-night world.

“It’s not a dictatorship. It’s not as if we’re the only supplier, but we try and choose people we think will help grow the industry.”

Demand is rising as the world’s middle classes swell and information is more readily available, according to Joanna Hardy, an independent jewellery specialist.

“People now understand that there are other stones that are also getting good prices. There are more people with money and there aren’t enough [stones] to go around. Knowledge is becoming more accessible. There is more information around and more appreciation.”

Recent trends can be seen at the world’s most exclusive jewellers. Earlier this year, the luxury jeweller Cartier showcased its royal collection at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris, featuring a necklace with a 15.29 carat oval-shaped ruby from Mozambique. The collection also included pearls, emeralds and sapphires.

Hardy, however, says it is not all about trends and fashion. “It’s about what the earth produces and the rarity of the stones. People are really fascinated about how a stone arrived.”

At Gemfields, emeralds account for around 75% of revenues, but it is building its ruby business. The company – which boasts Hollywood actress Mila Kunis as ambassador – has about a year’s supply of both emeralds and rubies.

Can the run of rising prices last? “We’re working hard on exploration,” Harebottle said.

Hardy cautioned that the availability of coloured gemstones on the high street might give the misleading impression that precious stones were in large supply. “We’re being spoilt by thinking it’s all readily available but it’s not. On the high street a lot is heat-treated to enhance the colour. The rare stones are the ones that are untouched apart from being enhanced through the art of cutting.”

Ultimately, she concedes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “At the end of the day it’s about people’s personal perception of beauty in a colour.”

Zircon

Source: Addmorecolortoyourlife

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Design (and image) are published courtesy of Jeffrey Hunt

Zircon’s fire, brilliance, and beauty can rival any gem. The affordability of its vibrant greens, sky blues, and pleasing earth tones contributes to its growing popularity today.

Once considered a diamond alternative, today we know that natural zircons are in fact the most ancient materials on Earth, holding within their brilliant depths a time capsule of our planet’s birth.

A tiny fragment of zircon discovered in western Australia is the oldest known object on earth: 4.404 billion years old. Earth itself formed less than 150 million years earlier.

An even older example was found in a large meteorite in Chile. The oldest thing scientists have ever examined, that zircon formed at least 4.6 billion years ago in the swirling disk of dust and rocks that became the planets.

Although diamonds are harder than zircons, they are quite young in comparison: a mere 3.3 billion years old.

Zircon contains its own internal atomic clock. Its crystal accumulates atoms of uranium, which decay to lead at a known rate. By measuring the relative abundance of two types of uranium and lead in a zircon, geologists can determine old it is. Zircon is also incredibly durable. It remains unscathed while other rocks and minerals melt and re-form under the tremendous heat and pressure of continental shifts, mountain-building, and violent asteroid impacts.

In the middle ages, zircon was said to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honor and wisdom in its owner. The name probably comes from the Persian word zargun which means “gold-colored.”

Today, natural zircon is often overlooked because cubic zirconia, the laboratory-grown diamond imitation, is so much more common. Many people don’t even realize that there is a beautiful natural gemstone called zircon.

Cubic zirconia is a man-made compound of zirconium, oxygen and yttrium, which was discovered in 1937. It lacks the silicon of a true zircon, and is, of course, very much younger.

Zircon is mined in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries. Because it can be colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red, and all the colors in between, it is a popular gem for connoisseurs who collect different colors or zircon from different localities.

Zircon jewelry should be stored carefully because although this ancient gem is hard, facets can abrade and chip. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.

Rocks On: Spinel to ‘have its day’

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Source: The National Jeweler

Author: Brecken Branstrator

New York — Spinel has been, up until the past few years, an underappreciated and undervalued gem with relatively little consumer recognition.

In fact, it hasn’t been uncommon for consumers to think that the stones were synthetic when they heard the name, simply because they were unfamiliar with them.

Over the last few years, though, spinel has moved into the spotlight as many of the major brands have begun to work with the gem, attracted by the rich colors of its many varieties.

The various shades of red spinel are so deep, in fact, that for a long time they were mistaken for rubies earning them the name “balas ruby.”

They even were set in crown jewels as rubies. The 170-carat center stone in the British Imperial State Crown is called the “Black Prince’s Ruby” but actually is a blood-red spinel dating back to 14th century Spain. The Crown Jewels also contain another misidentified gemstone–the 350-carat “Timur ruby,” which is actually a red spinel.

It wasn’t until 1783 that mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle identified spinel as a different mineral from rubies.

Today, spinel still costs a fraction of what rubies and sapphires do despite its comparable color and qualities, though that price gap continues to narrow.

A sliding supply
Today, spinel is sourced from Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan. More recently, new sources were discovered in Tanzania–red spinel was found near Mahenge and the Uluguru Mountains in the late 1980s, as well as near Tunduru after 1994.

These mines near Mahenge had the trade buzzing in the summer of 2007, when spinel crystals as large as 270 carats began surfacing. But even that more recent discovery is starting to run low.

One of the big challenges that faces spinel is the same thing that can be said for many gemstones–demand is continuing to increase while supply is decreasing.

Demand for spinel is far exceeding supply today and the gem is getting harder and harder to come by, especially when it comes to the highest-quality, most-in-demand colors. Larger pieces of rough spinel also are more difficult to find. According to the GIA’s gem encyclopedia, fine quality spinels frequently are cut into less-traditional shapes to preserve their size.

“Today the demand for spinel is probably the highest it has ever been in history, and I believe that this demand will only increase throughout time,” said Perry Regev, Carelle’s director of gem acquisition.

Currently, the most commercially valuable colors of spinel are the rich reds followed by the increasingly rare cobalt blue shades and then the vibrant pinks and oranges. There are also shades of purple, which tend to be less in demand and less expensive.

“I have just returned from Burma today and every red to pink-red spinel with any size is priced to the point that I cannot buy them,” gem dealer Dudley Blauwet told National Jeweler in an email update from his travels. “The supply seemed to be OK, but the economy in Burma is booming with the economic liberalization and local wealthy Burmese, and dealers are competing for the better items.”

Ruben Bindra of B&B Fine Gems said that he is seeing many of the big manufacturers in Europe, companies like Cartier and Bulgari, starting to use pastel-colored spinels in jewelry, especially featuring multiple stones in one piece. This is likely due to the fact that these colors can more easily be purchased in large quantities to allow for designs such as this, he said.

As demand increases and supply decreases prices invariably rise, a trend which seems to be the case for most gems in the market these days, Bindra noted.

“Over the last five years, almost every gem we deal in has increased in price,” he said. “Anything of value–everything has gone up in price tremendously.”

He adds that though spinel still seems to be the undervalued stone of the gem world, he has seen demand for it increase greatly over the past four to five years. “This could be because it’s what was available, or because it’s also a hard stone (an 8 on the Mohs scale) so jewelers like to work with it. Or it could be because it’s easier to work with since it comes in so many colors.”

Regev reiterated this statement, stating that he likes the fact that spinel has the “in-between” shades that really help Carelle’s designs come to life.

He also noted that, “Durability is a big thing. Whenever we set an emerald or certain semi-precious stones, I worry a lot about the stone breaking. With spinel I don’t need to worry as much and, once the piece is ready, the stone has an almost unsurpassed brilliance.”

All black everything
Just as the stone’s red and blue shades have benefited from their resemblance to sapphires and rubies, so too has spinel’s cheaper variety–the black spinel–gained from its resemblance to dark diamonds.

As the popularity of black diamonds has skyrocketed even over just the past year, brands have begun turning to black spinel to create the same look at a lower price point.

The stone also can serve as a replacement for black onyx, especially because it is a much harder stone and offers a great brilliance and luster, Regev noted. Also, black spinel normally isn’t treated whereas black onyx usually has been dyed.

“Black spinel is doing great, and I do not think the consumers are having an issue purchasing pieces that incorporate black spinel,” Regev said, “but I also believe that that has to do with the different price point that one can reach using black spinel.”

But perhaps spinel’s biggest challenge, and also possibly its biggest upside, is that it still has a ways to go when it comes to recognition, in any shade.

“I think that a lot of people still aren’t aware of what spinel is,” said gem dealer Evan Caplan. “And when consumers hear the word, they think that it might be synthetic because they don’t know enough about it.”

As the big brands begin to use the gemstone and more designers incorporate the various shades of spinel into their pieces, it’s only a matter of time before spinel will get the consumer appreciation many think it deserves, Bindra said.

“The initial challenge for spinel was the name recognition, which I think has mostly been crossed. It will soon trickle down to the consumer level now that designers and manufacturers are using it,” Bindra said. “(Spinel) is an underrated stone and it is an undervalued stone, but it’s going to have its day.”

Image: courtesy of Vladyslav Yavorskyy. Please visit his site terra Spinel

Tanzanite

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We publish courtesy of: Add More Color To Your Life

Exotic velvety blue with a rich overtone of purple, tanzanite is a one of a kind gem, unlike any other. Rare and valuable, tanzanite is also found only one place on the planet: the Merelani Hills of Tanzania, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Of course tanzanite is an ideal complement to all the rich blues, purples, and greens in your wardrobe. But the velvety depths of this gem are also beautiful worn with earth tones, from chocolates to rusts and golds.

Only discovered in 1967, tanzanite is already one of the world’s most popular gemstones. Some credit is due to Tiffany & Co., who introduced this beautiful blue gem onto the market with a lovely name that pays tribute to the beauty of the land of its birth. Tiffany knew that to call this glamorous gem by its mineral name, blue zoisite, would not do it justice.

Tanzanite is available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Rarely pure blue, tanzanite almost always displays its signature overtones of purple. In smaller sizes, tanzanite tends toward lighter shades of lavender and periwinkle. In sizes above 10 carats, tanzanite can show deeper, richer intense blue color.

Tanzanite is trichroic: that is, it shows different colors when viewed in different directions. One direction is blue, another purple, and another bronze, adding subtle depths to the color. When tanzanite is found in the ground, the bronze color dominates. However, with gentle heating, the cutter can watch the blue color bloom and deepen in the stone.

Legend has it that the affect of heat was first discovered when some brown zoisite crystals laying on the ground with other rocks were caught in a fire set by lightning that swept through the grass covered Merelani hills northeast of Arusha. The Masai herders who drive cattle in the area noticed the beautiful blue color and picked the crystals up, becoming the first tanzanite collectors.

Tanzanites with a color that is more blue than purple tend to be more expensive because the crystals tend to form with the blue color axis oriented along the width of the crystal instead of the length. That means that if the cutter chooses to maximize the purity of the blue color, the stone cut from the rough will be smaller and will cost more per carat. The blue color, however, is so beautiful that the sacrifice is often worth it.

Tanzanite jewelry is a little more delicate than other gemstone jewelry and should not be set in a ring that will be worn during strenuous activity. Never clean tanzanite in an ultrasonic cleaner or resize or repair a ring set with tanzanite without having the gem removed because the stone could shatter in the heat of a torch.

Tanzanite is available in a variety of shapes and sometimes in large sizes that are perfect for an important necklace. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.

ICA Joins Certification Initiative for Colored Gems Apr 12, 2013 7:38 AM By Jeff Miller

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Source: Rapaport

Author: Jeff Miller

RAPAPORT… The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) joined a United Nations (UN) initiative to assist in developing a mechanism to trace and certify gemstones from their country of origin. The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in cooperation with the Vienna International Justice Institute and ICA hosted stakeholders in Turin on April 9 and 10 to review case studies and begin to establish governance for tracking and certifying colored gems.

UNICRI contended that the global colored stone industry, which accounts for $10 billion to $12 billion per year, is extremely fragmented with a high degree of opacity. The easy portability of these stones provide a lucrative stream of revenue for organized criminal groups, but with a certification scheme, the UNICRI would establish a tracking system for colored gems which would be tied back to improvements in environmental, social and security measures, according to the groups.

Participants included representatives of jewelry brands as well as government stakeholders from Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Brazil and South Africa detailed case studies related to their colored gemstone industry and precious metals supply chain.

ICA’s president, Wilson Yuen, addressed participants as an industry representative. “In the present context, tracking gemstones from their geographical origin with a realistic approach is an opportunity for the public sector, the gems and jewelry industry and the civil society to address together social, technical and environmental issues as well as illicit and criminal practices threatening our sector. This will undoubtedly enhance the transparency of the distribution chain and benefit all the stakeholders from mine to market and build up consumer confidence,” said Yuen.

Rare gemstones: Red Beryl

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Photo by Pala International

Red beryl is a red variety of beryl. It was first described in 1904 for an occurrence, its type locality, at Maynard’s Claim (Pismire Knolls), Thomas Range, Juab County, Utah. The old synonym “bixbite” is deprecated from the CIBJO, because of the risk of confusion with the mineral bixbyite (also named after the mineralogist Maynard Bixby). The dark red color is attributed to Mn3+ ions.
Red beryl is very rare and has only been reported from a handful of locations including: Wah Wah Mountains, Beaver County, Utah; Paramount Canyon and Round Mountain, Sierra County, New Mexico; and Juab County, Utah. The greatest concentration of gem-grade red beryl comes from the Violet Claim in the Wah Wah Mountains of mid-western Utah, discovered in 1958 by Lamar Hodges, of Fillmore, Utah, while he was prospecting for uranium.

During the late Cretaceous (100 – 65 mya) the younger ranges of the Rocky Mountains were created, and deep fractures appeared which reached deep into the crust. In course of volcanic activities (appr. 20 mya), five or more layers of volcanic topaz rhyolite lava flows covered areas in todays Utah. Then hot fluorine and beryllium-rich gases and vapors, rising through shrinkage cracks of the cooled lava, met groundwater resources near the surface. The water evaporated and left behind niches or miarolitic cavities and porous areas in which the remaining steam could react under low pressure and high temperatures (300° – 650° C) with the rising mineral-rich gases so that red beryl crystals could grow.

Red beryl is the rarest member of the beryl family. Unfortunately there is just a small production of gemmy crystals because of their rarity. Most faceted stones are under 1 ct, and most of them are more or less included or appear as opaque “bubble gum” quality. Nevertheless “bubble gum” colored red beryls are offered, sometimes in good quality.
Faceted, clean stones with a “stop-light” color over 1 ct are extremely rare and priced as such, reaching sometimes over $10,000 / ct (in 2007).
The largest, yet recovered red beryl crystal was 1.4 x 3.4 cm (54 ct). The largest faceted stone (not clear) weighs 8.0 ct. Nevertheless the usual size of good, faceted red beryl is only 0.15 ct!
K. Hyslop, CEO of Gemstone Mining Inc.: “There is only one red emerald for every 150,000 diamonds, 12,000 – 15,000 emeralds, and 7,000 – 8,000 rubies. Only one woman in 3 million can own a 0.80 ct or larger red emerald. These goods are really fit for royalty, only one woman in 50 million could own a large red emerald necklace.” (Source: “Red Emerald or Red Beryl” in The Gemstone Forecaster, Vol. 18 No.3)

Red beryl has been known to be confused with pezzottaite, also known as raspberry beryl or “raspberyl”, a gemstone that has been found in Madagascar and now Afghanistan – although cut gems of the two varieties can be distinguished from their difference in refractive index.
While gem beryls are ordinarily found in pegmatites and certain metamorphic stones, red beryl occurs in topaz-bearing rhyolites. It is formed by crystallizing under low pressure and high temperature from a pneumatolitic phase along fractures or within near-surface miarolitic cavities of the rhyolite. Associated minerals include bixbyite, quartz, orthoclase, topaz, spessartine, pseudobrookite and hematite.

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Physical Properties of Red Beryl
Mohs Hardness: 7.5 to 8

Specific Gravity: 2.63 to 2.72

Refractive Index: 1.560 to 1.576

Optical Character: Uniaxial/-

Birefringence: 0.005 to 0.009

Colour (General): Red, violet-red
Causes of Colour: Red, Mn3+ in octahedral coordination.

Fluorescence (General): Inert

Crystal System: Hexagonal
Inclusions in Red Beryl: “Fingerprints” made by numerous fluid inclusions