“Jewellery is a very personal thing; it should tell a story about the person who is wearing it” –Unknown
For as long as man can remember, gemstones have always been a part of history. It has been used as jewellery, astrological symbols, good luck charms and birthstone. Many believe that wearing your birthstone can bring you good luck and ward off evil. I can’t say for sure it does but coloured/gem stones are just a beauty to have as well as a good investment just like your shares and bonds. And because they are mined and hard to find, it is an investment that will almost hardly depreciate.
Before, ‘Precious stones’ was used to describe Diamond, Ruby, Emerald and Sapphires while ‘Semi-Precious stones’ meant all other coloured stones. But these terms are no longer used in the gem trade, and “…the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) officially requires that “Members should avoid the use of the term ‘semi-precious’ in describing gemstones” – Gem Select. As it turns out, all coloured stones come in a variety of quality therefore having various degrees of value due to rarity, market demand and aesthetic value. For example, a low quality Emerald can go for N36,000 per carat while a good quality Spinel can fetch as much as N400,000 per carat.
“Therefore, due to aspects like price, durability, investment value and astrological significance, a customer planning to buy a stone needs to familiarize themselves with coloured stones in other to make an informed decision.” – Marc Brauner – Co CEO IGI Worldwide.
It is important to note what a coloured stone is. It is any gem stone that isn’t a diamond and when cut, sized and polished is considerably beautiful and resilient to use as an accessory. Normally, a coloured stone should be beautiful, durable and rare. When all three is combined, the stone is usually quite pricy. Some stones exhibit some peculiar attributes e.g. under certain light, some stones can change colours, display a star as well as rainbows. Naturally, these kinds of stone will fetch premium prices.
According to Marc Brauner, Co CEO of IGI Worldwide, one of the leading gemmology and certifying laboratories and institutes in the world, “In order to retain their beauty over time, coloured stones need to be durable. Durability includes hardness and toughness. Resistance to scratching is referred to as hardness. Some coloured stones are ‘soft’ and can be easily scratched thereby diminishing there attractiveness. Ideally a coloured stone should be harder than dust particles which may be fine particles of Quartz found in the air. Any coloured stone that can be scratched with one’s nail or a pen knife is less than Quartz. Coloured stones with hardness greater than Quartz include Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz, Tourmaline, Spinel, Garnet. These are the most valuable in descending other of value.”
The crystalline structure of a coloured stone determines its resistance and this is referred to as toughness. Aggregates are usually the toughest stones such as Jadeites and Nephrites.
Really, there aren’t enough top quality gem stones out there to meet demand so “coloured stones are sometimes treated using various processes to enhance their beauty and durability. These enhancements have existed for hundreds of years… Enhancement increases supply, ensuring a constant flow of coloured stones which consumers can afford and enjoy. However, these enhanced stones are lower in value than their naturally counterparts therefore the disclosure of their treatment is paramount.” – Marc Brauner – Co CEO IGI Worldwide.
So when buying a gem stone, one should look to a reputed and knowledgeable jeweller and when in doubt, consult a reputed international gem testing lab. Also, don’t forget that when buying pieces that are above $300 or highly prices coloured stones; ask for a certificate for the piece you are buying. It is more or less the certification that what you have is real and with it, can resell your piece at the current price rate anywhere in the world.