Antique jewellery showcases some of the finest gemstones found on today’s market. What determines the value of a gemstone you may ask? The short answer - rarity. Forbes on August 16th 2022 published that gemstones:
‘are one of the best-kept secrets of the investing world.’
The origin of a gemstone is one variable which determines the value, as some mines are now closed and will never produce the material again, whilst others are known for an abundance of gemstones. For instance, the old mine of Kashmir was open for just 6 years between 1881-1887, and in such a short time produced some of the world’s finest sapphires, with a velvety dream like appearance. Other famous loci are that of Burma (known today as Myanmar), for rubies, and Colombia for emeralds.
Emeralds from the old mines of Colombia are regarded the finest in the world due to their rich saturation of colour and very specific hue. Gubelin, one of the leading gemstone laboratories state:
‘Other than most emeralds from other locations around the world, the green gems from Colombia were not created by metamorphic processes in igneous rock but by hydrothermal processes in sedimentary rock.’
This leads onto the next point of colour! When investing in a coloured gemstone the hue is most important. Even when purchasing a fancy coloured diamond there are many different brackets with which the rarest are known as ‘fancy intense’. The Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) state that out of every 10,000 diamonds, just one is fancy coloured! These colours can include, green, brown, yellow, pink and the rarest, red!
There are terms given to gemstones of a superior colour, for example the finest rubies are deemed ‘Pigeon blood’ whilst the richest sapphires are classified as ‘Royal blue’. Both terms respectively correspond to the finest colour this gemstone can be.
Today there are many enhancement methods that routinely take place, as the colour of gemstones mined today is not jewellery worthy so they are enhanced artificially. From dyes, to resins, oils to heating, there are a plethora of enhancing techniques which grow in quantity year on year as the demand for gemstones outstrips the supply. When investing in a gemstone you want it to be natural, as the earth created and intended.
When considering a diamond as an investment, the same too applies, it must be of the earth. The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) defines a diamond as:
“a mineral consisting essentially of carbon that crystallises in the isometric (cubic) crystal system.”
A synthetic or lab grown diamond is forced to grow so quickly that its structure is not isometric. The manufactured nature of a lab grown diamond means that more of each are made daily, and the ability to create more whenever is required, means that they lack investment potential, and indeed depreciate in value over the years.
To support this, Paul Zimnisky, an independent analyst, stated that supply for lab grown diamonds is outstripping demand, causing their price to fall. According to a report commissioned by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), today, it costs $300 - $500 per carat to produce a CVD lab-grown diamond, compared with $4,000 per carat in 2008. This drop in production costs has reflected in the end product. For example, the price of a 3 carat lab-grown diamond has dropped by more than half between Q1 2021 ($20,565) and Q1 2023 ($9,305).
There are more niche gemstones which few other than specialists and jewellery connoisseurs know of. For example, the first significant source of diamonds was India, more specifically a region known as Golconda. This historical location is where the majority of type IIa diamonds are found. These diamonds are renowned for a pure chemical structure, devoid of nitrogen. These diamonds account for less than 2% of the world’s diamonds. Many of the world's most famous were found in the Golconda mines, including the Hope diamond and the Koh-i-Noor.
Another gem of immense rarity today is a natural pearl. Today, the natural pearl is one of the rarest gems, as there are only a few scarce occasions in which a pearl is found in the current ocean environment. In 1612 the Duke of Saxony passed a law allowing only royalty to wear pearls. Upper society were then excluded, creating immense desire for these unattainable gems! However, as popularity grew the number of pearl-bearing molluscs began to decline due to over-harvesting in the 19th century, causing the natural pearl to become rarer than ever before.
Antique jewellery showcases the finest gemstones on the market today, unearthed from the earliest deposits, long since depleted. Antique gemstones provide peace of mind when considering an investment, as the technologies of yesteryear were not as capable of the foolery it is today. Adding to the allure, each gemstone is cut by hand and showcased in a one-of-a-kind ring, displaying the skill of our forbearers. Visit Berganza to invest in a piece of beauty and immense rarity.
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