As every month passes coloured gemstones are gaining in popularity, the glitterati are wearing them, royalty are choosing them as wedding jewellery and when you speak to many couples who are looking for an engagement ring, the bride-to-be is often in search of a pink or yellow diamond or a blue sapphire like Kate Middleton’s. What is your experience of this? When couples find out the price of coloured diamonds so they switch to another coloured gemstone, like a pink or yellow sapphire or do they opt for a white diamond? Hit reply and let us know, only by sharing our experiences and working together will our industry get stronger.
Sapphires, or is it the colour blue that has become so popular recently? Several blue diamonds have gone under the hammer since autumn 2015, and all sold to a practically fevered sales room. But back to sapphires, and in particular, beautiful blue ones. The start of the recent sapphire trend has been put down to the Catherine effect. As soon as the royal couple got engaged and flashed the stunning ring with its central stone, a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by white diamonds set in 18-carat white gold, people clamoured for something similar. This of course further opened up the trend for stones of any colour to be used in jewellery, especially wedding jewellery. Now, when a member of the glitterati or royalty from any shore gets engaged everybody wants to know what colour the stone is. How times have changed. And how refreshing. White diamonds are stunning and remain king, but now consumers are becoming more aware of gemstones of every colour, and with that awareness comes demand. Which is great for us in the jewellery industry as by introducing coloured stones into jewellery, it gives more scope for design and individuality, which is the cornerstone for any art, especially jewellery design.
According to Bonhams auctioneers, who claim to sell “more jewellery lots each year than any other international house” and, therefore, well-positioned to spot trends, has announced that sapphires are “the must-have gem for 2016” with sales “soaring, at least when it comes to marking an engagement for increasing numbers of couples”. The international auction house says a resurgence of interest in coloured stones has seen more and more couples choosing sapphires to affirm their commitment. Bonhams are saying that many of their clients are looking for something a little bit different when it comes to the choice of gemstone for their engagement ring. While classic diamonds remain popular, the leading auctioneer is reporting a growing trend for people choosing coloured ‘statement stones’ like sapphires, rubies and emeralds.
This news of course also means that coloured stones are not only holding but increasing their value, making them an appealing buy in an otherwise increasingly volatile financial market.
As ever, some of the interest is said to be the result of trend-setting celebrities leading the way.
Hollywood actor Javier Bardem presented a three carat sapphire ring to actress Penelope Cruz to mark their engagement and Victoria Beckham has added a large oval cut sapphire to her collection of engagement rings. Actresses Tina Fey and Sofia Vergara both sparkled in sapphires on the red carpet at this year’s Oscars ceremony.
Jean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “Traditionally, sapphires symbolise truth, sincerity and faithfulness – so they make the perfect ingredients for an upcoming marriage.
“Kings and queens from Ancient Greece and Rome wore sapphires to protect them from harm and envy, and they have enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest gems until the present day.
“Our market data suggests more and more of our clients are opting for coloured ‘statement stones’ like sapphires, emeralds and rubies in their jewellery.”
Jean Ghika continues: “While the market will always be there for diamonds, our global clients are interested in seeing more pieces with colour and adding sapphires into their jewellery collection.
“As well as newly engaged couples, we are seeing a lot of independently wealthy women also choosing sapphires because they want something different and more of a statement gem in their ring compared to a classic diamond.”
Part of the growing interest in coloured stones is due to the renewed supply of material, and also rejuvenated mining activities in traditional areas. While the older material typically achieves the higher prices at auction, Bonhams reports the price for new material is also increasing as customers recognise supplies are finite.
Antique sapphires from historic mines are particularly sought after by collectors and investors due to their rarity and are commanding record prices at auction according to Bonhams.
Sapphires hailing from Kashmir – which display a vivid velvety blue tone unique to the region – are among the most highly-prized gems for serious collectors and investors due to their rarity and their scarcity. This is due to the fact that while there are still sapphires to be found in Burma and Sri Lanka, no mining activity takes place in Kashmir due to the depletion of the mine in the 1880s.
Today Kashmir sapphires are amongst the rarest of all gemstones and are avidly sought by collectors who are prepared to pay princely sums for top-quality specimens.
Bonhams has seen many sapphires dramatically exceeding pre-sale estimates at auction, demonstrating a rapidly strengthening market. There are numerous examples of significant price increases at auction of the last five to ten years.
Examples of sapphires soaring at auction:
– In 2004, a 30-carat Sri Lankan sapphire sold at Bonhams London for £11,950. A decade later, a similar Sri Lankan stone, also weighing 30 carats, sold for a staggering £326,500 – an increase of 2,200 per cent.
– In April 2015, a ring set with a Kashmir sapphire weighing 21.27 carats and carrying a pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £80,000 sold at Bonhams for a stunning £290,500.
– In December 2015, a pair of 19th century earrings set with Kashmir sapphires that belonged to a European princess and weighing a little less than eight carats each sold for £1,538,500 – more than tripling their pre-sale estimate of £500,000.
– At Bonhams New York in December 2015, an oval-cut Kashmir sapphire weighing 7.84 carats and set in a ring by Tiffany & Co sold for a staggering $1.3million [nearly £918,000], breaking the world record for a sapphire under 10 carats.
In September 2014, a star sapphire weighing 83.98 carats made £52,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £15,000 to 20,000.
Recent results at Bonhams demonstrate the global appeal of the stone with the auctioneer reporting its top sapphires being purchased from its London Fine Jewellery sales by buyers coming from the US, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong and South Korea.
What Caught My Eye This Week
Jewellery by Oscar Heyman never lets you down for truly exquisite, traffic stopping jewellery designs. So it’s not surprising that Zainab Jah, of ‘Eclipsed’ on Broadway, caught so much attention when she stepped on to the red carpet at this year’s Tony Awards, wearing jewels by Oscar Hayman.
Her necklace was a stunning platinum scattered white diamond necklace.
Her earrings were platinum emerald and diamond earrings with detachable drops.
And my favourite piece – black opal canary and white diamond ring, finished the jewellery accessories beautifully
$44 million ruby treasure trove
Gemfields have reported a record US $44.3m raised at its Mozambican ruby auction, a huge leap from last year’s $29 million at the same auction. Which puts even more pay to the theory that coloured gemstones are gaining in popularity.
According to Gemfields press, the auction took place in Singapore between 13 and 19 June. It was composed of high end and commercial grade rubies, both in treated and untreated forms.
The proceeds of the auction will be repatriated to Gemfields’ Mozambican subsidiary, Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada (which is 75 per cent owned by Gemfields and 25 per cent by local partner Mwiriti Limitada), with the royalties due to the government being paid on the full sales price.
Over one and a half million carats were sold to 44 international companies at an average price of 29.21 US dollars per carat.
Following on from this fantastic result, Gemfields have also announced an imminent marketing campaign focused around the rubies produced from the Montepuez mine in Mozambique.
Initial press releases suggest that it will be a global campaign using three short films, social media and a fully integrated print campaign. The films will be launched this autumn and then accompanied by additional marketing activity over the next 18 months.
Gemfields shares were trading up 1.3% to 39.0 pence per share on Thursday morning.
A new jewellery heist gang?
A spate of burglaries recently have led the LA police department to wonder if they might be dealing with a new “bling ring” in LA after Kevin hart was the latest celebrity to report jewellery and luxury watches stolen from his home in LA.
The LA police department believe the current robberies of Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Blac Chyna and Scott Disick may be connected to a new version of The Bling Ring. Between 2008 and 2009, a group of privileged teens robbed Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and other notable celebrities of millions of dollars worth of clothes and accessories. The teens would track the whereabouts of the celebs and plan out the robberies by finding maps online.
And, in what seems like almost Hollywood-orchestrated twist, Monday was convicted Bling Ring burglar’s 25th birthday.
Kimberley Process Chair Visits Central African Republic
Chairman of the Kimberly Process Ahmed Bin Sulayem has made a historic visit to the Central African Republic. Never before has an acting Chair of the Kimberly Process visited the country.
The visit came about after a 3 year moratorium on the export of rough diamonds from the world’s fourth poorest country. This is good news for the local economy there as the Kimberley Process mandate is likely to make a significant positive impact.
The press release stated, “The people here are reliant on this industry – and the government is determined to work with the Kimberley Process at every level, to ensure they get it right, from the people’s perspective as well as from the government’s. The effective resumption of exports from CAR was one of the main priorities of the KP chairmanship 2016 and now, I’m able to see for myself what that means in real terms right here on the ground,” explains Bin Sulayem, whose visit included the diamond areas of Carnot, Boda and Nola.