The beauty of gemstones in fine jewelry

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Gemstones range in color from the dazzling white diamonds to blood-red rubies, from pale citron to deep, vivid green emeralds, and from the palest clear blue aquamarine to the dark blue star sapphire.

Trends come and go in fashion and in gemstones. However, diamonds consistently make up more than half of the jewelry sales worldwide. A beautiful colorless diamond in a majestic setting has no equal in the world of fine jewelry. Colored diamonds are called fancies, and natural fancy diamonds command even higher prices than comparable colorless ones because of their rarity.

Women like variety, and colorful gemstones consistently adorn beautiful women everywhere due to their unique colors and exquisite beauty. After diamonds, made of carbon, comes corundum on the Mohs’ scale of hardness. Corundum occurs in all colors of the rainbow including colorless. The two most widely known are rubies and sapphires.

The ruby is the most expensive of the corundum stones. Only red corundum stones are rubies; all other corundum stones are sapphires. Pigeon blood rubies are the most highly prized and come from Burma and, to a lesser extent, from Thailand. Pigeon blood rubies are deep red with a second hue of purple. In 2015, the Sunrise Ruby from Myanmar (formerly Burma) was sold for a staggering $30 million dollars. Among Queen Elizabeth II’s stunning jewels are a ruby and diamond tiara and matching necklace. She frequently wears both pieces together with brooches and a cuff bracelet at state functions to adorn her white gowns.

One of the most famous engagement rings of modern times was Princess Diana’s 18-carat oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds set in white gold. Sapphires range in color from the blue of a summer sky to the deep blue of evening. Although we generally think of sapphires as blue, in fact they come in many other colors, such as yellow, pink, orange and purple. Sapphires are rarer than diamonds, but because of less demand, they are less expensive. The finest blue sapphires come from Ceylon, Burma, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil and Africa. The Kashmir sapphire, with its velvety blue color, is especially prized by connoisseurs.

The deep green beryl is known as an emerald. The most prized emeralds come from the Civor and Muzo mines of Colombia. To the uninitiated, many green stones resemble emeralds, but to the trained eye, the emerald is unmistakable. Emeralds are equally beautiful set in yellow gold or in platinum surrounded by diamonds. In recent years, emeralds have adorned celebrities from the sultry Angelina Jolie to the pop idol Taylor Swift. For the 2013 Emmys®, Colombian actress

Sofia Vergara wore a combination of jewels valued at seven million dollars including an extravagant ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond drop earring set.

Jason Parks of Majesty Diamonds believes that emeralds are a current trend. They are popular with celebrities, look good on all skin tones, and can be worn during the day and with evening wear. Another trend he mentions is the use of tourmaline and morganite as preferred gemstones.

Tourmaline is an interesting stone. It comes in all colors of the rainbow and is known as “gemstone of the rainbow” or “stone of many colors.” The most common color is black, which is used in crystal therapy but not in jewelry. Tourmaline often has two colors and changes color with light. Many women like tourmaline because of its intriguing photosensitivity.

Morganite set in rose gold is being selected by many brides for their engagement ring. It looks very feminine and the attractive pink color complements most skin tones. The deeper the pink color, the more desired the stone.
Jewelry designer Frey Karanjia Allen says larger pieces are in vogue. Colorful and bold cocktail rings, statement necklaces, collars and chunky bracelets are in demand. Also, there is a trend toward jewelry that mixes warm and cool colors together. Loose gemstones in caged rings and lockets are popular.

More custom-made jewelry is being ordered by clients, according to Garry Holloway of Holloway Diamonds. The use of computer-aided design and computer-assisted manufacturing, or CAD CAM, has made it easier for customers to visualize their design. CAD CAM helps overcome the fear of not liking a design that the customer has ordered. Holloway states that more fancy-shaped and fancy-colored diamonds are being sold. One reason is that better cutting technology allows fancy shapes to be cut. Better sales promotion increases the desirability of certain stones such as the Chocolate Diamonds being offered by some jewelers.

Whatever your choice, there is a gemstone waiting for you. Neighborhood jewelers and the larger chains are always willing to help you find the perfect stone and setting within your budget that suits your personality and life style. HLM

Sources:, and Cipriani, C. and A. Borelli, Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Gems and Precious Stones, New York, 1986.