“DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”. Who can forget the famous phrase coined by De Beers back in 1947 to promote the classic diamond engagement ring? While some still believe that diamonds are the height of luxury, it seems that their colourful competitors are seeing a rise in popularity. New findings in the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index showed that coloured gemstones currently outperform the wider jewellery market. So why are these alternative stones seeing such a surge in popularity?
Natural gemstones have held historical significance dating back thousands of years. Described as “A drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth” in the Far East, Ruby has long been considered the King of precious stones, while the Aztec and Inca civilisations held Emeralds in the highest regard.
In more recent history, Victorian jewellery became more accessible to a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, with the Industrial Revolution speeding up cutting techniques and the production of precious stones. Harking back to the Egyptian and Medieval times, the Victorians found meaning and symbolism in their jewels using them to convey important messages or codes.
Of course, gemstone jewellery cannot be explored without mentioning British royalty. The regal blue colouring of sapphire is inextricably linked to the royals as it features in many of the Crown Jewels. More recently, younger generations of the royal family have worn some of the most coveted gemstone jewellery including Princess Diana, who’s famous sapphire halo ring later became the Duchess of Cambridge’s. Combining the meaningful symbolism of gemstones, Prince Harry has previously gifted the Duchess of Sussex with a ring complete with his own birthstone alongside that of Meghan and Archie.
As well as the symbolic importance of coloured gemstones, their value truly showcases the colour of money. Over the past 10 years, coloured gemstones have experienced some of the biggest price increases in history. The world’s most expensive ruby, Crimson Flame, sold for $30m in 2015, while the Rockefeller Emerald was sold for $5.5m in 2017. True, that the most precious of the “big three” gemstones, emerald, ruby and sapphire, are affordable for only the most wealthy individuals, newer deposits of these gemstones, however, have also provided high-quality examples at a more accessible price point.
The character of coloured gemstones may also contribute to their increased popularity. Diamonds with high clarity may be revered and highly sought after but the subtle inclusions in coloured gemstones are a welcome characteristic. Each unique effusion found in a natural gemstone is treasured. Stephan Reif, Director of the International Coloured Gemstone Association explains that “Gemstones are unique and allow people to have their own preference and identity”.
While lab created alternatives have increased in popularity alongside their natural counterparts, it is the rarity of coloured gemstones that adds yet another desirable quality as well as their natural beauty and symbolism. Reif explains it best: “No technology could replace the magic and fascination of natural coloured gemstones” and we couldn’t agree more.