Client Case Study: Redesign of tired ring with an abraded aquamarine into a contemporary cocktail ring

A client contacted me to view several items of tired diamond and gemset jewellery she had not worn for ages with a brief to refresh into new contemporary mounts so she could enjoy wearing them again. When we met, of all the jewellery viewed one piece stood out above all items. It was a significant sized square step cut octagon aquamarine set in a heavy looking collet with some channel set diamond baguette diamonds to shank. There were a few baguettes missing and damaged.

Abraded table to aquamarine
heavy-collect-setting_300x300

What struck me was the state of aquamarine which over the years had sustained abraded facets with some minor chips to girdle with some scratch marks to crown and pavilion. However, there was no real significant damage to stone. I put this down to hardness of this variety gemstone which is 8 on Moh scale which is a durable gemstone within the Beryl species.

I recommended to have the aquamarine repolished with a view to removing the chips and the abraded facet edges and in doing so this would bring back lustre to the gemstone. Lustre being the quality and quantity of reflected light from surface of gemstone. The result as a significantly improved gemstone with amazing lustre with very little weight loss. Please see below.

Repolished aquamarine with high lustre
Repolished aquamarine with high lustre

I will add at this stage, I had not shown improved stone to client as at initial meeting when we discussed redesign for new mount my client wanted to enjoy the surprise on presentation.

I redesigned new mount on CAD which had centre focus of aquamarine with the stone set in a lighter collet with flat claws and mounted to a split shank micropave set with diamonds. Here was the result below and a very happy client.

CAD design for remount
The CAD design for remounting the ring
New mount with polished aquamarine
The new mount with the newly polished aquamarine
If you require any help with any of our services or have any other concerns I will be delighted to assist you.
Please call me on 0207 404 4022 / 07785 730 214 or leave a message on the contact page

Enhancements – the big four gemstone treatments explained

If you are thinking of going away this Christmas for some sun, fun and retail therapy especially for diamonds and gemstone jewellery, spare a few minutes and read my article on the various treatments on the big four gems, diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire. I have only written a brief synopsis on each treatment, but for further information, please contact me.

Enhancement of gemstones with varying treatments have existed for centuries. In addition to enhancing their appearance , the process may also improve or lessen the gemstone’s durability. The treatments are not always apparent and are sometimes difficult to distinguish and any party selling an enhanced gemstone in UK according to CIBJO guidelines must disclose the treatment method and must be mentioned on supportive paperwork.

The image above shows Diamond clarity enhancement –Fracture filling: before (left) and after (right).

Enhancement primarily improves colour and clarity of gemstone but at same time recent demand for unheated sapphires and rubies have caused a price increase of as much as 50%-100% for unheated material. In most cases heating enhances the gemstone to make it more attractive for a buyer. Some treatments are not permanent and laboratories will not issue a report if treatment is not permanent.

Diamond

Detection fracture filled diamond
Detection fracture filling:
Pink/bluish/purple flashes under magnification
  • Surface coating – Applying a thin film of synthetic diamond to the surface of a diamond simulant, giving it certain characteristics of a real diamond. This method is not permanent.
  • Laser drilling – A method of removing significant inclusions by lasering into diamond and burning away inclusion.
  • Fracture filling – After lasering diamond and removing inclusion, a glass compound with same refractive index of diamond is injected to make inclusion less apparent. This method is not permanent and controversial.
  • Irradiation & Annealing – Neutron and electron bombardment of diamond creating colour centres and with additional heating creates an assortment of coloured diamond.
  • HPHT – High pressure high temperature treatment removes colour or adds colour dependent on diamond type.

Ruby

Lead glass filled ruby
Detection lead glass filling:
Bluish flashes/flattened and rounded gas bubbles
  • Heating – A method of exposing gem to varying high temperatures for the purpose of altering colour and improving clarity.
  • Lattice Diffusion – The use of element Beryllium during heat treatment to penetrate the crystal lattice of Ruby to improve colour.
  • Glass filling – This method represents ruby that is heavily treated to improve transparency and is very controversial as treatment is unstable resulting in damaged stones.

Emeralds

Emerald filling
Detection fracture filling:
Yellow orange flashes/trapped air bubbles
  • Fracture filling – This method employs artificial resins such as polymer to hide fractures with disastrous results if placed in ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
  • Oiling – This method is accepted in trade with use of essential oils to hide fractures within gemstone.

Sapphire

ceylon-sapphire0002-1
Detection heat treatment sapphire:
Discoid fracture in stone/zoning of colour
  • Heating – A method of exposing gem to varying high temperatures for the purpose of altering colour and improving clarity.
  • Lattice Diffusion – The use of element Beryllium during heat treatment to penetrate the crystal lattice of sapphire to improve colour.

My advice is always to buy from a reputable jeweller with a track record and be wary of pricing as treated stones should trade at a lesser price than natural gemstones. If you do buy abroad and want to buy a significant sized natural gemstone then make sure it is accompanied by a reliable laboratory report. The big four laboratories are GIA, SSEF, Gubelin and Swiss Gemological Laboratory.

For durability of enhanced gemstones, please download my pdf How to Clean Your Jewellery.
Download pdf »

If you require any help with any of our services or have any other concerns I will be delighted to assist you.
Please call me on 0207 404 4022 / 07785 730 214 or leave a message on the contact page

Coloured Gemstones: Attributes and Popularity

Coloured Gemstone jewellery sales in ‘bricks and mortar’ retail outlets and e-commerce sites have increased significantly world-wide over the last three years and are showing no signs of relenting. Current consumer growth has seen a growing appetite for fine and extra fine quality gems in both precious and semi precious varieties with emphasis on colour.

Coloured Gemstone - Spessartine fire garnet           Coloured Gemstone - Tanzanite oval aym

Spessartine Garnet                                                                      Tanzanite

Colour in precious and semi precious gems is one of the main attributes in a gemstone’s beauty in addition to the cut of gemstone which can display the magnificent optical effects of certain varieties of gemstone. Another attribute is the durability of a gemstone which is really important as hardness and toughness of gemstone will dictate what piece of jewellery would be most suitable to resist daily wear and tear of gemstone. Other attributes also include the value of gemstone which can vary considerably whether gemstone is treated or untreated. Rarity of certain varieties and desirability are also important which embraces current fashion, culture and ethical considerations.

Cartier Tutti Frutti Ruby Sapphire and Emerald

Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet – Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald
These last attributes are very relevant within the traditional domain of the big three precious stones, unheated ruby and sapphire and natural emeralds which are realising record prices at the auction houses worldwide especially in the Far East. Valuing jewellery, I am continually aware of the steep rise in pricing for gems of quality since 2012 which reflect the current level of demand and excitement surrounding these gemstones. But not all consumers have limitless budgets to buy into rarity.


Black opal with rough diamond ring - Coloured Gemstone

Black Opal with Rough Diamond

Gemstone jewellery with their broad array of colours and price points offers clients opportunity for repeat purchasing of a particular coloured gemstone for matching suites. For example, a client that purchases a gemstone cocktail ring may want a pair of earrings or pendant to match. This trend is attractive as repeat purchasing for diamond jewellery could be cost prohibitive.


fine aquamarine ring with coloured gemstone           fine rubylite ring

Fine Aquamarine                                                                       Fine Rubellite

Another point worth noting is that traditional sources of supply, for example sapphires from Thailand and precious opal and sapphires from Australia are either in decline or production depleted, supply has not grown. What we are we are witnessing is the importance of Africa as a primary source for coloured gemstones. New sources are emerging such as Tanzania for ruby, Ethiopia for opal and Madagascar as a significant supplier of various gemstone species. However, with the current and future demand from consuming markets including traditional and emerging markets with high net worth individuals can only squeeze supply and pricing can only go one way which is up!

Now really is the time to buy into a Coloured Gemstone!

Are Diamonds becoming a Commodity?

The increase in transparency of diamond pricing offered on varying diamond trading platforms, the increase in demand for diamonds for bridal jewellery and investment from High Net Worth individuals from China, Russia and India coupled with a definitive decline in mining production,  may lead you to believe that diamonds are turning into a hard commodity.

 

A commodity is a product, which should be homogenous, fungible and traded across various markets. These commodities in short have to be similar and interchangeable. For example, gold in one country should be of the same purity as gold from another. Commodities are traded across terminal markets situated in different corners of the world  e.g the London Metal Exchange. These exchanges consist of traders who either spot trade or trade by way of futures contracts.

 

Martin Rappaport, an entrepreneurial maverick within the diamond industry has attempted to create a futures market in diamonds. He argues that diamonds are bought and sold for cash and is a natural resource with a limited supply, defined, certified and traded worldwide. Other similar platforms have also been established with a similar business model and various Diamond funds have been created to offer returns to investors. Is this sufficient to grant diamond status as a commodity?

De Beers along with other mining consortiums and the diamond community argue that diamond is not a commodity as each diamond is unique and is not consistently the same. Diamonds are not standardised as grading laboratories can vary in grading of polished diamonds. You can have a similar cut and carat weight of diamond yet differing colour and clarity resulting in a significant price difference. There is also the difficulty to exchange different sizes of diamond unlike gold whose quality can be exchanged easily.

The Diamond trading platforms can show up to 30% variance in pricing for a particular diamond with like for like Carat weight, Colour, Clarity and Cut. In addition, the buy/sell model of the diamond funds have historically failed to achieve significant returns for investors.

Where diamonds significantly differ from all commodities are their symbolic properties of love and emotion and the concept that diamond is not a necessity but a luxury. Throughout  the early stages of the rough diamond supply chain from mining, assortment, distribution you could argue diamonds are a commodity but once arrived at the Diamond manufacturers where the stone is cut and polished, certificated and then offered to jewellery retailers the diamond is sold to consumers as as symbol of love. There is no room for a commodity and symbol of love to coexist together.

What better way to enjoy the buying experience of your emotional purchase than with the expertise of a jeweller to explain the uniqueness of diamond from rough to polished and then have craftsmen create your bespoke piece of jewellery set with your symbol of love. Absolutely priceless.