Small pockets of tinsel are arriving surreptitiously in the shops – it can no longer be ignored, Christmas is coming. And as we have just watched the fashion trends for Spring/Summer 2015 unfold on the runway, it may be pertinent to now take a closer look at the trends that consumers will be spending their money on for the next few months – this is the buying season after all!
As always there is a huge diversity of styles and vibes – but big, bold and vibrant gemstones run across all trends this season. In fact there is an oversized predisposition that is given to all jewellery in general. Steampunk and Victoriana are also very big – which come in heavy metals, copper, brass and gold.
Chokers, are very on trend, and already appearing at every price level. Again there is nothing delicate with this style, the chokers are either very bulky, and adorned with vibrant coloured stones or they can cover most of the neck and décolletage.
Where do you gain your inspiration from when you are starting to design a new piece of jewellery? The chunk of precious metal that is waiting to be fired, cut, hammered or polished in any fashion that you desire? Or the stone, which has already been cut by master cutters to show each stones personal magnificence and radiance? Why not take a pointer from some of the world’s best jewellery designers? And start the same way as they do – with the stone.
At Harry Winston, they believe that no two stones are alike. And that each gemstone must be chosen for its nature and distinctive beauty. Only then do the designers and master craftsmen at Harry Winston fashion the setting.
David Morris fine jewellery, whose clients range from royalty to the Hollywood glitterarty, also start their designs by first choosing the stone. This is nothing new with them, in 1996 Morris stated that each gemstone’s inherent characteristics is the inspiration for his design process.
Laurence Graff – who travels the world’s auctions buying the some of the most spectacular stones. Also start the design process after having sourced the perfect gemstone. And of course Laurence Graff’s famous ruby ring was designed around the amazing ruby that is the rings centrepiece.
However, not all designers within the jewellery trade have the luxury of attending Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions around the world to source their stones. Nor do they have a vault ready in their workshop jam-packed with gemstones of all shapes, sizes and colours. But what all clients of the Gembank do have, is access to our stock. We have already travelled the globe to source the most beautiful gemstones. And because of this, we do have a jam-packed stock, with every conceivable colour, shape and size of gemstone, waiting for your perusal, so that the stones can be the conduit for your inspiration.
Plus, by designing jewellery before choosing the gemstone, the process from beginning to end can be more time consuming, because it can be difficult to find an exact size, weight and colour match when the setting is already created. It can also be more costly too. In man hours trying to source an exact stone, or by having an already cut stone, re-cut and shaped to a settings specifications.
Weather you believe the same as the Harry Winston craftsmen do, in that each stone has its own nature. Or you believe that stones are waiting for the perfect setting to show them in the best light, let the stone speak first. Let our gemstone collection be your muse. Gain inspiration for your designs by first looking to the gemstone and letting it stimulate and encourage your creativity.
Beautiful blue Sapphires have been sought by man as a precious gem stone throughout history. So to imply that they are back in vogue in 2014 is a bit of an oxymoron. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that for the past 40 years or so fewer people have been purchasing blue sapphires, but now that lull has passed, once again putting sapphires into the forefront of the consumers’ minds.
As you already know, white diamonds have had a strangle hold on jewellery since that famous De Beers campaign slogan “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. Although the white diamond is certainly the most sought after of all gemstones, something which I can’t see changing any time soon, people are once again seeking out pops of colour to bring more character and individuality into their jewellery. And of all of the coloured gemstones, the stunning blue sapphire is the most popular.
Blue sapphires’ resurgence has been gathering momentum for at least ten years. The main source of this gemstone’s recent attraction started again when Kate Middleton was given her engagement ring – an oval blue sapphire surrounded by white diamonds. When something has the royal seal of approval the public duly follows. Within three months the American glitterati had picked up on the trend. Penelope Cruz’s engagement ring also having a large blue sapphire as the centre stone of her ring was the first of many stars choosing alternatives to white diamonds as the centre piece for their jewellery. Thus paving the way for other people around the globe to start choosing the blue sapphire over the white diamond.
Sapphires are also extremely versatile – they are second only to the diamond on the Mohs scale and their use will go as far as jeweller’s imagination will allow. Sapphires of every shape have been utilised in so many ways – heart shaped sapphires have been used in rings as well as earrings. Also, Baguette shaped sapphires have become very popular perhaps due to rise of vintage, specifically art deco style jewellery, in earrings and rings.
Some consumers may be surprised to find that the sapphire not only comes in many different shades of blue but other colours too. Pink sapphires, green sapphires, yellow sapphires, white sapphires, purple sapphires, brown sapphires and red sapphires are all once again being requested by the consumer. But as the fascination for this stunning gemstone gathers momentum so does the public’s thirst for knowledge. Many couples are now concerned with not only the type and colour of stone they are choosing for their jewellery but the meaning behind it. Blue sapphires are not only the birthstone for September and April but they are also a symbol of protection, good fortune and spiritual insight. It has been worn and used as a symbol of power and strength, but also of kindness and wise judgment.
This gem of gems has made a welcome comeback.
For nearly 75 years white diamonds have dominated the jewellery industry. This is due to a very clever marketing campaign by De Beers during America’s “Great Depression” in the 1930’s. Engagement rings at this time were hardly ever bought, due to them being a luxury and that they simply were not the “done” thing. Of course to a diamond cartel, this is not good for business, De Beers needed diamonds to be viewed as a necessary luxury. And so, in 1947 the slogan coined by Mary Gerety, “A Diamond is Forever,” was introduced. Ultimately, the De Beers campaign sought to persuade the consumer that an engagement ring is indispensable, and that a white diamond is the only acceptable stone for the engagement ring. The campaign was very successful. In 1939 only 10% of engagement rings had diamonds. By 1990, it was up to 80%.
This, almost feverish desire for white diamonds, spilled out across the world and into almost every jewellery collection. The popularity of sapphires, rubies and emeralds hit an all-time low in west. Furthermore, the knowledge that diamonds come in an array of stunning colours were lost to the mists of time.
But over the past 12 years the trend tide has started to turn, especially in high jewellery. Where once there was a sea of ice white diamonds, pops of colour are emerging. Consumers are once again seeking out sapphires, rubies and emeralds to add individuality and liveliness to their jewellery. And the knowledge that diamonds don’t just come in the white, but a variety of colours is slowly becoming more wide spread.
Pink diamonds are currently the most popular of the fancy coloured diamonds. This ultra-rare gemstone came into the public eye in 2002 when Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with a monumental 6 carat fancy vivid pink diamond. Since that day the glitterarty have clamoured to get coloured gemstones in the latest setting for red carpets.
Yellow diamonds are a close second in popularity with many celebrities such as Kristen Bell and Carrie Underwood opting for canary yellow engagement rings. Tiffany & Co have really jumped on board offering coloured diamond solitaire engagement rings now too. Their classic single yellow diamond ring set in platinum was made famous by Kate Hudson in 2005 in her first engagement.
Many jewellers are now recognising that using coloured diamonds and gemstones is a huge asset to their business. Apart from adding a coloured sparkle to a collection, they add profit. Designers in the industry are now looking to use stones that they have never used before to give their pieces distinction and character. For example, brown diamonds, no longer thought be used solely for industrial purposes, have been remarketed very recently and are now referred to as chocolate diamonds, these are very much in vogue and are especially stunning when used with rose gold for the more contemporary look.
I guess the biggest benefit to anyone selling fancy coloured diamonds is that they are much more profitable than selling white diamonds. Perhaps this is why their popularity has taken off so much.
Visit our stock of Natural Fancy Coloured Diamonds to see what we’re talking about.
She who from April dates her years,
Diamond shall wear, lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow, this stone,
Emblem of innocence, is known.
The diamond is arguably the most popular gemstone on earth. However, it’s the stone and not the colour that is important for this month’s birthstone. Which is great luck for those born in April, as diamonds come in such a wide variety to colours and hues that there is bound to be one to fit everybody’s taste, just not necessarily their budget!
The first recorded history of the diamond dates back some 3,000 years ago to India, where it is likely that diamonds were first valued for their ability to refract light. Ancient Hindus, finding diamonds washed out of the ground after thunderstorms, believed they were created by bolts of lightning, so they used them as talismans in battle. However it was the Greeks that gave this beautiful gem its name, they fell in love with the stones strength and near invincibility. Which is why we have the word diamond in present day, as it derives from an ancient Greek word, “adamas”, meaning invincible.
Fast forward to Europe during the time of the dark and Middle Ages, where diamonds were powdered and ingested in the hope of curing sickness. In 1534 Pope Clement used this treatment on himself in a bid to aid his recovery from illness – it didn’t work. Towards the end of the Middle Ages things started to change for the diamond. Merchants started to recognise their monetary worth instead of their mystical powers, so mine owners perpetuated myths that diamonds were poisonous.
Of course these days we wouldn’t dream of ingesting diamonds powdered or otherwise. They are now known as a girl’s best friend no matter what colour they come in. Diamonds will forever be the jeweller’s best friend too, due to their extreme durability and endless popularity no matter what form they come in.
April’s other birthstone is quartz, and has been held as the other birthstone for this month for thousands of years. In its clear form ancient people believed it was a form of ice crystal that would never melt. They thought it had cooling powers and was used as a romantic stone, often given to brides on their wedding night. Quartz is once again very popular as it is an affordable yet stunning gem when used in jewellery. It is mostly found used as beads or in charms these days. However it can be sculpted into almost anything – the Egyptians proved this by creating beads, scarabs, hair jewellery, combs and all manner of delicate objects in a range of colours, thus proving its versatility to anybody who wants to use it today.
Who in this world of ours their eyes, in March first open shall be wise, in days of peril firm and brave, Unknown Author.
Aquamarines vary in colour from deep blue to blue-green of different intensities, caused by traces of iron in the beryl crystal. The shade of Aquamarine for the March birthstone is cool blue, the colour of the Aegean sea.
The name aquamarine was derived by the Romans, “aqua,” meaning water, and “mare,” meaning sea, because it looked like sea water. Aquamarines were believed to have originated from the jewel caskets of sirens, washed ashore from the depths of the sea. They were considered sacred to Neptune, Roman god of the sea. This association with the sea made it the sailors’ gem, promising prosperous and safe voyages, as well as protection against perils and monsters of the sea. Its first documented use was by the Greeks between 480-300 BC. They wore aquamarine amulets engraved with Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea) on a chariot.
During the Middle Ages, it was believed to be an effective antidote against poison. Aquamarines were thought to be the source of power for soothsayers, who called it the “magic mirror,” and used it for telling fortunes and answering questions about the future.
Aquamarine rates a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, which makes it a superb gem for a wide range of jewellery, including rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
The second birthstone for March is the bloodstone. Bloodstone is a variety of dark green chalcedony spotted with red also known as heliotrope. The myths behind this particular gem are perhaps the most abundant of all the gems. It supposedly gained its red flecks as it was placed at the foot of the cross and collected flecks of Christ’s blood – thus causing bloodstone to also be known as the martyr’s stone. Babylonians used this stone to make seals and amulets, and it was also a favourite with Roman gladiators. In the Middle Ages, bloodstone was believed to hold healing powers, particularly for stopping nosebleeds. Powdered and mixed with honey and white of egg, it was believed to cure tumours and stop all types of haemorrhage. Ancient alchemists used it to treat blood disorders, including blood poisoning and the flow of blood from a wound. Bloodstone was also believed to draw out the venom of snakes.
Bloodstone was very popular in Victorian and Edwardian jewellery. It has seen a very recent revival perhaps due to the recent resurgence of Art Deco style jewellery, and male jewellery.
The February born shall find, sincerity and peace of mind, freedom from passion and from care, If they, the amethyst will wear. Unknown Author
February – the month of love – has the deep vibrant amethyst as its birthstone. The word “Amethyst” is derived from the Greek word “amethystos” which means “remedy against drunkenness.” The Amethyst is a semi-precious stone in varying shades of purple which belongs to the quartz family and owes its colour to oxide of manganese and iron which forms part of its composition. However for the February birthstone, deep violet is the only desirable colour variety. The best varieties of Amethysts come from Siberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and the Far East. It is one the more affordable gemstones, adding to its popularity.
The amethyst holds a long rich history of both lore and legend. It can be traced back as far as 25,000 years ago in France, where it was used as a decorative stone by prehistoric humans. It has also been found among the remains of Neolithic man. Legend says that it got its beautiful colour from a nymph who invoked the aid of the Goddess Diana to protect her from the attentions of the god Bacchus. Diana promptly changed the nymph into a pure white, sparkling image of stone. Realizing his cruelty, Bacchus poured grape wine over her, thus giving the stone the exquisite violet hue of the amethyst. During the Middle Ages, it was used as medication, believed to dispel sleep, sharpen intellect, and protect the wearer from sorcery. It was also believed to bring victory in battle. In Arabian mythology, the amethyst was supposed to protect the wearer from bad dreams and gout.
The hardness of garnet on the Mohs’ scale is 7, which explains why this stunning gemstone is so excellent to work into jewellery, especially when it is teamed with silver – which is very on trend this year.
Bloodstone is the alternative birthstone for February.
Rose Quartz is another affordable birthstone for January. This cloudy pink gemstone was believed by ancient Greeks to have been coloured from cloudy white to pink by the spilling of Aphrodite’s blood. Rose quartz has been used in jewellery in Europe since antiquity, Romans used to give this cloudy pink gemstone as a symbol of love and friendship. However this gemstone has recently seen a huge resurgence in popularity for use in jewellery in particular affordable modern silver jewellery.
By her who in this month January was born, no gem save garnets should be worn, they will ensure her constancy, true friendship, and fidelity. Unknown Author
January is a cold and bitter month for us in the UK, which makes the stunning warm red garnet gemstone a perfect choice for the January birthstone. The name “garnet” is derived from the Latin “granatum” meaning “pomegranate” because the crystals resemble the red colour and seed-like form of this fruit. Not all garnets are red as many people believe, in fact they come in many colours including orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink and colourless. However for the January birthstone, the deep fiery red garnet is the only desirable colour variety.
Garnet is a beautiful and very popular gemstone that has been used for thousands of years. They were given to ancient kings to wear as a talisman for protection and worn by warriors during the crusades by both Christian and Muslims to safeguard them on their travels. And according to the Talmud, the only light on Noah’s ark was provided by a large garnet. Much later on during the Middle Ages in Europe, garnet was made popular once again by monks as it was believed to enhance truth, faith and constancy, and to dispel melancholy in those who wore it.
The hardness of garnet on the Mohs’ scale is 7 to 7.5, which explains why this stunning gemstone is so excellent to work into jewellery. And to the bearer, not only is this gemstone very attractive and eye-catching, it is extremely resistant to everyday wear and tear.
Rose Quartz is an affordable alternative birthstone for January. This cloudy pink gemstone was believed by ancient Greeks to have been coloured from cloudy white to pink by the spilling of Aphrodite’s blood. Rose quartz has been used in jewellery in Europe since antiquity, Romans used to give this cloudy pink gemstone as a symbol of love and friendship. However this gemstone has recently seen a huge resurgence in popularity for use in jewellery in particular affordable modern silver jewellery.
I don’t have any Garnets, so if you have any you want to show, please send them through, or tweet me about them. @thegembank
I hope you have a Happy Holiday and a Wonderful 2014.
I look forward to working with you in the new year.
Richard, Gaetane, Francoise and Dan.
International Gemstones | London
Major Trading | Geneva
2013 especially November really was an incredible time for the sale of fantastic gems and jewellery. So much so, I have decided to do a round-up of the auction highlights for you.
Since the 1970’s the two main auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s held regular sales devoted to important diamonds and coloured stones. These regular auctions have heightened interest exponentially of coloured gems and has consequently become a strong indicator of their market value.
Since the 2007 crash of the world economy the price of gems, especially coloured ones, has risen year on year, with auction estimates regularly being smashed by the time the hammer falls. And yet there is still no sign that the ceiling price has been anywhere near reached.
The time for coloured gems is now, and the auction results prove it.
Pink Star diamond fetches record $83m at auction 13th Nov
The most famous sale of the month and the absolute pick of the bunch was the sale of a stunning diamond known as the “Pink Star” which sold for a staggering $83m (£52m) at auction in Geneva – a record price for a gemstone. The record breaking didn’t stop there, Sotheby’s reported that it sold almost $200m worth of jewellery in that auction, a record for a single auction.
The Pink Star diamond measuring 2.69cm x 2.06cm, was sold to Isaac Wolf, a well-known New York diamond cutter who has renamed it the “Pink Dream”. The winning bid was for 68m Swiss francs ($74m) there was a long silence between that offer and the previous telephone bid of 67m Swiss francs, but the auctioneer David Bennett said that for 67m francs he could allow a quick word! He further commented “Ladies and gentlemen, 68 million is the world record bid for a diamond ever bid and it’s right here,” as he brought down the hammer. Then to add to the occasion Sotheby’s played the theme tune from the “Pink Panther” movie after the winning bid was confirmed!
According to the auctioneer, the Pink Star was mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, but it did not say which country. “It’s really extraordinarily rare,” said Mr Bennett. “Very, very few of these stones have ever appeared at auction.” It took two years to cut and polish the diamond, which was 132.5 carat in its rough state. In its finished condition the Pink Star is 59.60 carat, more than double the size of the next biggest diamond in its class.
Of course the auction didn’t stop there, The Richelieu Sapphires, a pair of rare and magnificent Kashmir sapphire and diamond earrings also went under the hammer and almost doubled the estimate of £2,887,796 as the lovely pair of earrings achieved £5,221,152.
The unheated stones, each weighing 26.66cts and 20.88cts are from Kashmir, where the world’s most sought after sapphires are found. The mines were discovered by chance as a result of a landslide between 1879-1882, but at 4,500m above sea level and for much of the year covered in snow, mining operations were limited to three months of the year. By 1887 the “old mine” was exhausted and the “new mine” was abandoned in 1908. Looking through a Kashmir sapphire is like looking up into the Himalayan sky, as the inclusions in the stone can sometimes resemble wispy clouds. Kashmir sapphires have a rich, velvety appearance and the colour is sometimes referred to as a “cornflower blue”. To find a matching pair of this size is very rare indeed.
A few weeks later, Christie’s in Hong Kong Sets the Asian Jewellery Auction Record
Christie’s “Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels” auction achieved a record-breaking $111 million (HK$859 million) in total sales on November 26, making it the highest total ever for a jewellery auction in Asia, according to Christie’s.
Results were described as robust with 86% sold by lot – 266 of 309 lots offered. The top lot of the auction was a circular-cut D Flawless diamond rivière comprising 52 stones that weigh a total of 105 carats. It was sold to a private Asian collector for $8.14 million (HK$62.8 million) with buyer’s premium, within its $7.26 – 9.33 million (HK$56 – 72 million) estimation.
It was followed by a Burmese ruby and diamond necklace by Hong Kong-based jeweller Etcetera, which weighs a total of 87.8cts. At $6.4 million (HK$49.4 million), including buyer’s premium. The necklace, also sold to a private Asian collector, set a new world record price for a ruby necklace on November 26.
Another record was set by lot 2063, an oval-shaped fancy intense orange pink VVS1 clarity diamond of 12.9cts. The coloured diamond is set within a brilliant-cut diamond border with a pear-shaped diamond surround, and is mounted in a platinum and 18k rose gold ring. It exchanged hands for $4.95 million (HK$38.2 million) with buyer’s premium, within its $4.28 – 6.48 million (HK$33 – 50 million) estimation. The piece sets the record price for an orangey pink diamond, as well as the per-carat price for an orangey pink diamond.
The showstopper here was Lot 2048. A stunning rare purple star sapphire, tsavorite garnet and diamond ring by Wallace Chan. Its estimate of between £54.8 – 71k was totally smashed when the hammer dropped at £85,072. The star, or asterism, is caused by the needle-like crystals of rutile that have formed parallel to the crystal faces so that when cut en cabochon will form a 4 or 6 ray star. These are wonderful stones and to find a purple one is very unusual. Set with green garnets (tsavorites) and diamonds, with the shank decorated with scroll titanium inlay makes for a very eye catching jewel, designed by one of Asia’s most talented jewellery designers. This is a present any woman would love to find in her Christmas stocking.
The final auction of the month was Christie’s London’s Important Jewels auction on November 27.
The Christie’s London sale – their last before Christmas – included such a wide variety of jewels that there was something for everyone, provided that ‘everyone’ is a millionaire. There were no less than eight diamond tiaras – a sign that demand is still high for these ultimate head ornaments. The catalogue had its own Cartier section where 33 lots were offered for sale including wristwatches, compact cases and an art deco aquamarine and diamond clip very similar to one that Queen Elizabeth II owns. In the afternoon session there was a collection of six René Lalique works of art ending with a fabulous Burmese sapphire pendant.
Among so many stunning lots there were those that stood out even more than the rest – Art Nouveau was definitely the flavour of the day.
At this auction the most beautiful lot of the day was Lot 339, a show stopping but sophisticated statement ring, an art deco moonstone, sapphire and diamond cocktail ring by Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1940. The estimate for this piece was a low £8k and it finally realised, after a flurry of bids on the phone, floor and internet, £21.25k Lot 315, an art nouveau gold and enamel necklace of entwined gold ivy leaves with black and brown enamel gold berries, signed by Lucien Gaillard, circa 1900, doubled its estimate and realised £32.5k. Showing that Art Nouveau is still very popular right at the top end of the market. Gaillard is a lesser-known art nouveau jeweller and was not as prolific as Lalique but nevertheless was one of the greatest jewellery designers of his time. He was influenced by Japanese art and never used human figures or faces in his designs – unlike many of his peers. His trademark was a single m.
Of course you will also remember the other big hitters of the year.
Egg sized Diamond sells for $30.8 million
The price topped the previous record of $26.7m for a white diamond sold at an auction in Geneva in May. The stone, sold in six minutes of bidding on Monday night, was described by Sotheby’s as “the largest D colour flawless diamond D colour” or finest white diamonds are considered extremely rare and fetch premium prices. The gem was discovered in a mine in an undisclosed southern African country in 2011 and weighed 299 carats before cutting. Pre-sale estimates had valued the diamond, given the highest quality rating by the Gemological Institute of America, at $28-$35m.
Vivid orange Diamond sells for £22 million
The 14.82-carat vivid orange diamond shattered its high estimate of $21 million. It was the last of the 286 lots that were up for sale at the auction held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. It set a world record for a fancy vivid orange diamond. At $2,398,151 per carat, it also set a world record price per carat for any coloured diamond sold at auction.
Pear Shaped Diamond 101.73 carats sells for $26.7
Back in May, a spectacular 101.73 ct. D flawless diamond fetched an equally spectacular price at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva—$26.7 million, or $254,400 per carat. This was a new world record for a colourless diamond sold at auction, which has since been surpassed as records for diamonds do not last long. The buyer was Harry Winston, in one of its first moves under new owner Swatch. The diamond will be named the “Winston Legacy,” in keeping with “the founder’s tradition of buying only the best,” says Christie’s international head of jewellery Francios Curiel. Swatch did not reply to a request for comment on its plans for the gem.
Princie Intense Pink Diamond sells for $39.3
In April, The Princie, a 34.65 ct. fancy intense pink cushion cut, scored $39.3 million ($1.1 million a carat) at Christie’s New York – making it the most expensive jewel ever sold in the auction house’s 200-plus year history. The Type IIa stone – which was found in the famed Golconda mines of India – was originally owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad, rulers of the south central state in India. It was first auctioned in 1960 and purchased for £46,000 by the London branch of Van Cleef & Arpels. The diamond was named in honour of 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, India, who attended a party at a Paris Van Cleef store in 1960 with his mother, Maharani Sita Devi.
The result of Sotheby’s and Christie’s Magnificent and Important Jewellery auctions have become so popular with buyers and the media alike, that they have placed themselves in direct competition to long-established jewellery houses such as Cartier, Tiffany, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Perhaps because some people like to own a piece of jewellery with a bit of history and the auction houses do excel at telling the story of the product. However, the main purchasers of the giant coloured gems are mostly investors as they seek to place their money in something more solid than stocks and shares. The fever for knowledge and ownership of coloured diamonds and gemstones seems to be universal and ever growing. I imagine that this time next year, if I do another auction special, I will be reporting that all the above records will have been smashed. It is indeed rather exciting times for gem dealers, jewellers and investors alike.