The Store in January 2018

Ten years into business and still things go where they want. They seem to move around better than if I were to insist.

 

Before I collected anything I was already collecting ‘containers’. I would find a container for each thing, sometimes each thing must be grouped with a few other things. All things had to go to a ‘home’. Which means we pretty much spent all our money on containers for a good five years. We never had any savings. They were all spent on containers.

 

One day after many years I could shop at my own home. I had collected enough to have a choice to use this or that. It’s also the stage if you don’t stop you begin to hoard. By this time I was also a little tired of moving things around.

 

Lucky for us even things broken during shipping wanted to be useful. In the years I spent acquiring containers we’ve also learned how to repair broken ones. Around this time I realised I now know the difference between containers and being contained. I’m not entirely sure I know how to explain this, but I think one is useful and one is not. Some belong to the past; they have no wish to look into a future that is uncertain.

 

One realisation follows another. Things I want come to us so directly we have to believe they are indirect! I prefer to know I am part of something I only know half of. Each day I expect surprises, so I make them, here, there, once I get enough sleep.

 

There is a very famous local confectionery located opposite us. Day time the shop looks like it is contained, persevering. Night falls and the shop becomes a container, the premise of so much history, hard work, and secrets!

 

There is also a tasty noodle shop opposite us. We eat there when we have half an hour, also when we have all week. Both noodle shop and confectionery have observed us, day or late. Their verdict seems unanimous. We are the youngest, as they were once.

 

Once, many years before Gem Gardener come into being, we called our store then ‘I Never Promised You A Rose Garden’. Oh, the irony of it. Then we couldn’t afford so made our own signage and simply stuck it over the light, the whole long name! That was more painful than paying for it. We can now pay but we won’t pay for something just because. Anonymity is a freedom that is a friend to create and to live creatively. I did not say creativity.

 

Gem Gardener is a hoax. Because there are two of us and only one of us is one thing at any one time. We come together as Gem Gardener, at all times. Thankfully.

 

Tell you a secret. We hated having a signage so much we just settled for ‘Cinematic Bespoke Jewellery’. That didn’t do anything except let us indulge in our own neon-lit fantasies, and for that useful only at night when no one is around! If you’ve every walked around a street or mall emptied of people, and you love it, you will understand our fantasy. And our stubbornness to be out walking that lonely road. Farthest only when cycling.

 

 

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WYSINotWYG: The Colour Of Gemstones

Do not judge a stone by its colour. When shopping for a gem.

For if you only knew the secrets we bear to set that stone you choose or did not choose.

What I mean is, we can set a gem to look the colour you desire, or set a gem to look differently from what it looks like when you bought it.

Gem shopping. Because WYSINotWYG, when it comes to the colour of a gem. A GIA certificate can tell you a part of the story, but only one part.

Trick or Treat: Interplay of Stone and Gold

We come to jewellery as artists first, then craftsman jewellers; that makes us a particular band of thieves. Distinct from jewellers who work with craftsmen, we would like to believe our work is more holistic, relaying what we know about the stone to the gold work, inseparable and yet each wholly considered.

We are able to do the Robin Hoodesque thing, take a lacklustre gemstone and make a memorable piece out of it, or eyeball a rare but largely ignored stone for its potential.

Because we work at both stone and gold level, we are in a unique position to understand that the buyer-shopper-customer will not know what s/he does not know.

Accompanying Stones

In order to get a better market price, diamonds are always used to accent a main gem. If you look at jewelry store display, it is likely the diamonds were the thing that drew your eyes to the blue sapphire ring. Yet on its own, you may not have noticed the blue sapphire ring.

But it is not always necessary, or beautiful. Many times the blue of a vivid sapphire is set to ‘compete’ with accent diamonds. Paying for a worthy blue sapphire becomes overrated this way.

Ridiculing the sapphire (or other stone) can happen in more ways than one. Things get even more complicated when it comes to colour change gems! We have a saying here:

Only diamonds love light; coloured stones do not.

Do you wonder why?

These old-timer truths are neither easy to understand nor to account for during design. But heed you must, unless one ideal is more important than the other, but you cannot be unaware of unaligned goals.

Frame Set or Prong Set

Around a small stone, the bezel (frame) may be too thick with gold. Around a big stone, the prongs may be too conspicuous. Furthermore, in both cases, open or close back settings is sometimes decided with textbook (simplistic) promises to the unsuspecting shopper-customer.

What happens then of the gem you bought? The one you chose for this or that reason?

What we are saying is this – there is not a best way to set a coloured gem to get the best colour, but there is always a better way.

The better way is ‘better’ for having satisfied several sometimes unaligned ideals.

Open Back or Close Back

For the final time, open back will not mean more light to the gemstone. You do wear it on your finger don’t you? Light is sealed off this way.

And for the first time perhaps, there is such a thing as a “stone whisperer”. Its job description is to coax the colour out of the stone, to be more of a gem OR less of a stone.

Without revealing too much, let’s summon “the stone whisperer”.

The Stone Whisperer

Natural star sapphires in close shades. Which to pick?

Textbooks will tell you which gem to choose. Your heart will not, or is unsure.

But guess what? It matters only, a little.

If you have a beautiful rock, you must know why. Then make the necessary steps to ensure that is the focus of design.

If you have a less than beautiful rock, you must know why. Then make the necessary steps to ensure design addresses that.

Both scenarios can get the same outcomes. If you know this, you already know a little of what the stone whisperer knows!

And both scenarios are only possible if you work with an intuitive jeweller, who works at both stone and gold level.

how to choose gemstones

Natural spinels in the red family. Is one more valuable than the other? Which will partner well with an INTP?

 

It is easy to know which to pick out. Especially once you know these are diamonds.

 

It is harder to understand that part of beauty is its relativity. Without which beauty becomes dull, like a still body of water versus the sea.

When you take a stone out of the ground, working at both stone and gold levels matter. If the stone remains un-mined, or for that matter, uncut, who cares???

Working at both stone and gold level is a very long journey. We are still on that journey.

If you know all this now, you want to make sure your jeweller knows too.

Don’t fuss too much about the colour of a gem. Spend more time knowing what you really want, and find the right partner to work with you on your project.

Because WYSINotWYG, when it comes to the colour of a gem. A certificate can tell you a part of the story, but only one part. The evidence to this is the plenty of forgettable jewelry out there, their quality fully certified, yet their beauty and their meaning fully compromised.

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WYSIWYG: Rose Cut Diamonds & Antique Hand Cut Diamonds

There are two types of rose cut diamonds seen in much of the jewelry in this region, specifically South-east Asia. One is the ‘Western’ rose cut diamond and the other is the Straits Chinese rose cut diamond. The Straits Chinese rose cut diamond is quite similar to the Indian polki diamond, which is an Indian cut diamond slice.

Historically the Western rose cut is hand cleaved, much like the Straits Chinese rose cut diamond. Hand cleaved diamonds reveal techniques of hand-cutting, with uneven facets at the crown of the diamond.

American mid-century diamond platinum ring set with a 0.5ct rose cut diamond and 0.08ct side diamonds.

Today the modern rose cut diamond is more ‘symmetrical’ like the centre of a sunflower, than say, a primitive rose cut diamond. Evolving modern diamond cutting techniques cannot escape symmetry, even for the lesser faceted rose cut diamond.

Which brings us to the distinct look of Straits Chinese rose cut diamonds. While the Western rose cut diamond has come long and far, the ‘Asian’ rose cut remains random and raw. It is this primitive look much desired by those of us who know ūüôā

If you are searching Google for “antique hand cut diamonds”, it is likely you are looking for authentic (old) Straits Chinese rose cut diamond jewelry.

Old Straits Chinese Rose Cut Diamonds

Straits Chinese rose cut diamond jewelry, from early 1900s. The earlier the rose cut diamonds, the more they appear as ‘organic’, in the sense the facets are more random and unsymmetrical.

 

diamond bangle singapore

This is a 1960s Straits Chinese Peranakan bangle. Although it could be older, these rose cut diamonds are now considered ‘modern’. Such diamonds can be found in both Straits Chinese and Western rose cut diamond jewelry, usually at premium prices if the diamonds are very white and the individual rose cuts are big.

With the ceaseless love for older rose cut diamonds, I am guessing we pursue it for more than its primitive ideals. Despite its primitive cut, rose cut diamonds retain that adamantine quality only present in diamonds – they look like water, and this is not masked by the fire present in modern cuts. The modern eye has long recognised diamonds to look the way they do, with multiple facets and in familiar cuts, so that you cannot easily tell synthetic diamonds from earth-mined diamonds.

For this reason, some say the Straits Chinese rose cut diamond looks ‘not like a real diamond’. Its fewer cuts let you see all the way through the diamond, with whatever light that shines through, and not in a reflected sense as in a 52-facet diamond.

But it is a genuine diamond with similar characteristics as the Western rose cut.

Characteristics of the Straits Chinese Rose Cut Diamond

Early 1900s rose cut diamond ear studs. So ‘organic’ are these rose cuts they look like glass, don’t they? Yet these are considered very good quality rose cut diamonds – white and clear – as opposed to grey or less clear diamonds.

Rose cut diamonds have no pavilion (ie. they are flat with no ‘tail’) and they always look bigger than a brilliant cut, for the same carat weight. In diamond speak, the rose cut diamond has the biggest spread (surface area) for the same carat weight of any cuts of diamonds.

“Flat with no tail”. The diamonds are shaped like a dome. Obviously the thicker the dome, the heavier the rose cut and the more valuable it is. Of course this applies if the diamonds are uniformly white and clear like this!

Wait… There’s More to the Straits Chinese Rose Cut: The Intan Diamond

If you’ve come across the term ‘intan’, it is the Bahasa Malay/Indonesia term to mean “diamond”. Intan, or diamonds from this region, are almost always the hand cut, no pavilion types. If you do come across diamonds such as Old Mine, Old European, or Transitional Cut diamonds on old Straits Chinese jewelry, these diamonds were imported from either England or France, at a time during the 19th century and up to the early 20th century.

For the smaller ‘intan’ rose cut diamonds,¬†perhaps it is more appropriate to say they are ‘intan’ hand cut diamonds, since sometimes these diamonds are so small it is pointless to insist they really are rose cuts! Note that just because they are individually very delicate and small do not mean they are inferior to the bigger rose cuts. We cannot emphasise this enough – the quality of all rose cut diamonds, whether small or thick, depend on how white or how fiery (sparkly) they are.

 

Straits Chinese rose cut ‘intan’ diamond jewelry, from 1900s. These ‘intan’ diamonds are rose cut diamonds except thinner. Note that whether thin or thick they are all considered rose cut diamonds. The terms “intan” and “rose cut” are used rather confusingly in this part of the world!

 

antique peranakan jewellery

1900s ‘intan’ hand cut diamond chandelier earrings. It takes a special skill to set these ‘intan’ hand cut diamonds. Because they are so delicately sliced, the risk of dropping out is not uncommon. However, we know the expertly set pieces are less likely. Bear in mind these craftsmen have retired or are gradually retiring!

 

antique hand cut diamonds

Late 19th century ‘intan’ hand cut diamond navette ring. The ‘kana’ or olive ring is a timeless Straits Chinese heritage design. This ring here is a particularly long version of navette rings, the longest we’ve seen. Again these diamonds are all rose cuts, except smaller.

 

Peranakan Intan Jewellery

For such a simple design, can you imagine the amount of work it takes to set the ‘intan’ diamonds? These hand cut diamonds are all primitively cut and not calibrated. The craftsman must be able to ‘feel’ how stable each diamond is in its holder, which are really bead work and not prong work.

 

Yet for the bigger diamonds and those in-between sizes, there is a lot of confusion as to what is and what is not a rose cut diamond piece. For us, we look to the quality of the diamond to distinguish. If the diamonds are fiery and not too small, we tend to term these rose cut diamonds.

rose cut diamond bracelets

1900s Straits Chinese rose cut diamond bracelet. We threw in some Western rose cut diamonds around for comparison. You cannot say these are not proper rose cut diamonds, can you? On closer inspection, the Straits Chinese rose cut diamonds are comparably thicker ie. higher carat weight.

 

 

antique rose cut diamond jewelry

Late 19th century Straits Chinese toi et moi rose cut diamond ring. Another one of those confusing pieces folks randomly term as ‘intan’. Yet this is an era-authentic rose cut diamond ring.

 

18k Antique Rose Cut Diamond Earrings

Late 19th century ‘intan’ diamond ear studs. In this case we’re more likely to term these ‘intan’ hand cut diamonds rather than rose cut. This pair shows very distinctly the difference between rose cut diamonds (they have facets however few) and very simple hand cut diamonds (few and almost no facets). Yet it is very hard to find a pair as primitive and organic as this.

 

antique diamond pendants for sale

1900s Straits Chinese diamond pendant. Rose cut or ‘intan’ diamond, can you tell?

 

antique hand cut diamonds

1900s Straits Chinese diamond pendants. Two pendants feature rose cut diamonds while the other two feature ‘intan’ hand cut diamonds. Can you tell which is which?

Whether or not you are buying a piece that is properly rose cut diamond or ‘intan’ hand cut diamond is hardly why you noticed the piece in the first place.

The quality of all diamonds, whether rose cut or hand cut, whether small or thick, depend on how white or how fiery (sparkly) they are.

Really, that’s all you need to know, if you are lost to all this!

The Future of Straits Chinese Rose Cut Diamonds – Heirloom or Fever?

Let’s look at more Straits Chinese rose cut diamond jewelry pieces. The more you see, the more intimately you become aware, that carat weight cannot measure the allure of Peranakan diamond jewelry.

Rose Cut Diamond Cocktail Ring

The rose cut diamonds on this retro chunky ring are considered big. White and fiery of course.

what is rose cut diamond

Not big enough? A rose cut diamond cluster of over 4 carats. Notice how big rose cut diamonds appear, since all the weight is spread out on the surface for which our eyes can properly behold.

 

It is for this ‘bigger’ and ‘clearer’ properties that appeal to lovers of the rose cut. In recent years, the over production of commercial diamonds in general has led to tastemakers, connoisseurs and collectors all tutting at its commercial look (surprise, surprise). This of course means their love for diamonds has to go somewhere.

You got it.

We always know it’s a matter of time before more of the Western world learns of the gentle ‘Asian’ rose cut diamond.

The way we look at the ‘Asian’ rose cut diamond is how ‘white’ it is and how far along this white is without any black dots. I couldn’t have worded this any other way, as this is really how au naturel our rose cut diamonds are. No 4Cs or fluorescence, even lesser symmetry…

Hence, size becomes a lesser concern when you bear in mind these diamonds are just hand cut from a raw, without too much concern over this or that. The outcome of such freedom gives you a diamond that looks truer to the human condition, perhaps flawed but less complex than one is led to believe.

WYSIWYG. The Straits rose cut diamond and the Straits ‘intan’ hand cut diamond.

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Platinum vs White Gold

Skinny 18k White Gold Diamond Bracelet

Modern white gold jewellery is good for such pieces – everyday luxe pieces with an ‘on-trend’ look. The rhodium plating over white gold is very important for daily wear. When it becomes less shiny, you can always re-plate the piece.

This is old Platinum jewellery that has not been re-plated. The beauty of the grey is loved by some, not so by others. Point is, platinum over time holds its ‘look’ as the day it was made.

If you compare the underside of jewellery pieces, you can easily see the construction of platinum pieces is structurally more solid than white gold. It is this robustness that makes platinum feel substantial in your hands. Again, some value this aspect in their jewellery, some less.

White gold is not white. It is usually a weak yellow or heavily greyed that becomes ‘white’ or silver when plated with rhodium.

If you see it without the white finishing, your eyes will probably not pick out that piece in the window. In fact, you may not believe it is actually gold.

Platinum, on the other hand, is grey and polishes to a high shine.

This means that over time, you will need to re-plate your white gold pieces, while platinum pieces can just be polished.

Skinny 18k White Gold Diamond Bracelet

White gold is fabulous for jewellery that does not need to be ‘heirloom’. It is more important that these pieces appear luxe, bright and feminine. The difference of beauty perceived in “carefree” and “careworn” is how I always imagine the beauty in white gold and platinum respectively ūüôā

Platinum Chain Necklaces Antique Chinese Jewelry
How It Feels

Platinum is less malleable than white gold. This means that a platinum setting holds gemstones more securely than a white gold setting, since it is harder to bend. This is one of the reasons why a platinum piece feels more solid that a white gold piece.

In our experience with antique jewellery, there is a lot of evidence that platinum jewellery holds up better over time.

Why is platinum more expensive than white gold?

If you compare the prices of pure platinum and gold, they are almost similar. Sometimes, platinum is even cheaper than gold. So how do you explain why platinum jewellery is more expensive than gold pieces?

Firstly, platinum is denser than gold, which means that a platinum piece is heavier than a similar gold piece.

Secondly, the processing cost of platinum is higher. While you can generally remelt gold scraps from working on a piece, scraps of platinum mostly cannot be reused and will have to be refined. In fact, some bench jewellers will not work with platinum because it will contaminate their gold-only workbench.

Thirdly, it really is harder to work on a platinum piece. The melting point of platinum is higher, so you will need to work with a hotter flame.

Fourthly, you can’t sell off platinum like you can sell gold, so if your jeweller buys extra platinum to work on your piece, s/he can’t sell it off, well, not as conveniently.

Why not silver?

Here we put the two to compare because they are the only precious metals to hold quality gemstones. Jewellers are less inclined to set a $1000 per carat gemstone on silver because it is hard to convince the market to pay for fine or rare gemstones in a sterling silver setting.

Once a fiery or vivid gemstone is set on solid gold, everything ‘feels’ different. This could be because the warmth of the yellow gold or shine of white gold casts a glow to the colour of gemstones. Sort of like enhancing it, except legit. The final piece of jewelry just looks better when set on gold or platinum. Metaphysical reasons outweigh physical ones here.

The Luxe Look of Tradition

Outside of specific interests, loose gemstones are stones until they are ‘housed’ and then ‘decorated’ properly.

Which brings us to decoration. Again subjectively speaking, in the aesthetic and nature of ‘white’, platinum comes closer to being well-decorated, naturally. While contemporary jewellery techniques may sometimes plate rhodium over platinum, it is not necessary and the ‘raw’ look of processed platinum is luxurious enough for most designers.

This is verified by antique platinum jewellery we inherit. Other than to polish away scratches, many platinum pieces need no further glossing up before they are put up for sale. Being softer, gold prongs or gold ring bands tend to need reworking to be shelf ready.

In short, to continue the tradition we find in the platinum jewellery we inherit from history, we choose to work in platinum over white gold. We learn whatever we can from history and hopefully bring it onward to a meaningful tomorrow.

*Photos of platinum pieces to come*

The Luxe Look of Everyday, Since the Gatsby Era

But let’s not forget the flirty pieces of the Art Deco era. White gold was used popularly by the 1920s, especially for luxury jewellery that needed extensive metalworking. If platinum was used for such pieces, it would be expensive and fearfully weighty, especially around the neck or for chandelier earrings with already heavy stones. With machine work aiding hand-finished pieces, Art Deco jewellery showcases the finest make of white gold jewellery.

We will continue the tradition we find in these white gold jewellery, while balancing tactility (weight and feel) and beauty considerations. From the point of metalworking, large, intricate pieces would certainly benefit from using white gold.

Typical Art Deco filigree necklaces in white gold. Of course the white gold has been re-plated over time. But the beauty is innate and imagining the piece in platinum seems too ‘heavy’, in more ways than one.

Another typical Art Deco filigree bracelet in white gold. Similarly the white gold has been re-plated over time. Again the use of white gold is justified and to commission a piece in platinum today may lose the delicacy of such a look.

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Heated vs Unheated Sapphire

Most sapphires are heat treated. Let’s say, 99%.

Thermal or heat treatment is common in commercial sapphires, as heat brings out the vivid colours of sapphires.

Points to note before reading further

    1. Sapphires that are heat treated are still considered natural, 100% natural.
    2. Unless stated and certified to be ‘unheated’ or ‘no heat’, the sapphires you see on a ring or a pair of earrings are likely to be heat treated. Heat treatment in sapphires is legal and acceptable. As a general rule when shopping for sapphires, you should always assume sapphires are heated unless they are specifically stated (and certified) to be unheated.
    3. However, colour treatment, or beryllium treatment, is illegal or unacceptable unless disclosed. Do not confuse heat treatment with chemical treatments like beryllium or diffusion.
    4. If you know the difference in the market value of heated versus unheated sapphires, you will understand why they are always certified as unheated (if they are) AND sold as unheated sapphires (ie. the status of an unheated sapphire is never ‘unsure’ or undetermined).
    5. ¬†Heated or unheated, the demand of sapphires with vivid colours does not abate (compared to less vivid colours in otherwise natural ‘earthy-looking’ sapphires). What consistent demand does is actually to drive up the prices of even heated sapphires to a high, sometimes asking for as much as an unheated sapphire that is¬†lacklustre in colour.
    6. In short, TWO pervasive factors determine the price of a natural sapphire: whether the sapphire is heated or unheated, and how vivid is the colour of the sapphire (sometimes called how ‘fiery’ the colour is).

 

Rubies and Sapphires

A medley of sapphires and rubies. Can you guess which are unheated, by sight alone? It is hard, isn’t it?

 

Rose Cut Sapphire Earrings

Unheated rose cut sapphires. These are unheated sapphires that are better, imho, unheated. Perhaps this is because their pastel colours are lovely in their softness, which is not what is typically coveted in sapphire colours. From an artist’s perspective, this is a heavenly palette.

Ask not “What is the price of sapphires per carat” but “What is available for sale”

Due to the rarity of unheated sapphires (that 1% in worldwide supply), it should be no surprise that market forces of demand and supply thrive when it comes to the price of sapphires.

Good quality unheated sapphires will cost you. Unheated sapphires below 2ct or 3ct are affordable, but the price jump is exponential for sapphires above 5ct.

Depending on colour (vivid/fiery), broadly speaking, unheated sapphires below 2ct to 3ct will range between USD800 per carat to USD3,000 per carat. Above 5ct, unheated sapphires may range wildly from USD3,000 per carat to USD8,000 per carat.

Above 10ct, every 5ct jump in size will raise the price astronomically.

Carat weight aside, the origin of sapphires will significantly affect the asking price. Broadly speaking, Kashmir – Burma – Sri Lanka, this preference ladder depicts the collector frenzy when it comes to the pursuit of sapphires. Note that Kashmir sapphires of quality are always the same stones sold and resold numerous times, and current production of good material from Mogok is very limited. Kashmir sapphires are not heated, while Burma sapphires are usually not heat treated.

Sri Lankan (Ceylon) sapphires are prized much higher than Montana or Australian sapphires, mostly because the colour of Sri Lankan sapphires tend to be more vivid. Many Sri Lankan sapphires also tend to undergo only low heat treatment (this varies, especially with the market being most active today).

Sri Lanka produces a wider range of sapphire than any other classic source – in fact, it’s famous for ‘fancy’ sapphires, ie. colours other than blue, including the coveted orange-pink Padparadscha¬†sapphire.

Hence, it is truer to say that outside obsessive collector activity, demand always exceeds supply for¬†all¬†quality sapphires, heated or unheated, as long as the colour falls into any of the below… well, Lotus Gemology’s¬†Ruby & Sapphire Color Types¬†guide is a reliable benchmark, if you are interested in further reading.

Lotus Gemology

Highly Desirable Ruby & Sapphire Colour Types 

Kashmir Blue Sapphire Unheated

17.5ct unheated Kashmir sapphire. A frenzy of activity in the 1920s have effectively mined out these Kashmir deposits.

 

Kashmir Blue Sapphire Unheated

Kashmir sapphires command the highest prices as they are extremely rare. Kashmir mines have long stopped production for close to one whole century now. The ones available for sale (if any) were mined a long time ago and trading is limited to whatever was mined then.

 

Sri Lankan Cornflower Blue Sapphire

13.2ct unheated cornflower blue sapphire. The lively blue colour of this gem earns it the Lotus ‚Äúcornflower blue‚ÄĚ distinction.

 

Cornflower blue sapphires

So what is 13 carats like? An idea of how big, hence how rare this gem really is, when placed beside a ring.

 

Burmese blue sapphire sugarloaf

4.4ct unheated Burmese blue sapphire. This ‘sugarloaf’ is my favourite cut in a quality gem. It is polished rather than faceted, showing all; yet it is unlike a regular cabochon because of its pyramidal shape.

 

Tri colour Sri Lankan sapphire

13.8ct unheated Sri Lankan sapphire. This tri color sapphire is one of those ‘fancy’ sapphires the industry sometimes calls an “antique sapphire”, perhaps for its unique colour banding and cut at such a high carat, unusual traits which are not often observed in sapphires cut closer to present day.

 

Unheated Tri Color Sapphire

Consider how a simple design, like what Napoleon presented to¬†√Čmilie Pellapra¬†(she claimed to be his illegitimate daughter), can be manifested by an exquisite tri colour sapphire, surely not lacking in place to the otherwise common diamond.

 

Purple Blue color change sapphire

16ct unheated colour change sapphire. Another ‘fancy’ sapphire because it displays a dramatic colour change from blue…

 

Color Change Sapphire

… to purple! This sapphire is not just fancy for its colour change, but at 16 carats, you do not need to ‘train’ your eyes so much to perceive its colour change properties. Size consideration is important when it comes to colour change gems, if not for value then for proper visual enjoyment.

 

Color Change Sapphire

At 16 carats, this big, unheated and dramatic colour change is wholly Nature’s make. Can you see both the blue and purple in the colour zoning?

 

Color Change Sapphire

Now can you imagine this colour change sapphire in a simple lavaliere necklace?

 

Should I demand and/or pay for an unheated sapphire?

There are all kinds of reasons to do so and all kinds to not. It is more useful to consider why jewelry designers choose to use unheated sapphires (if so).

One reason has to do with the perception of beauty and its impact on value. Designers and high fashion want to showcase their craft and style, and sometimes to do so, it is only worthwhile to put their creative efforts to sapphires that are 101% natural (100% natural plus the superlative 1% of worldwide supply!). That is, their colours must be exactly the way they are when they are mined from the earth and nothing more is acceptable.

Consider also that sapphires sought out for occasions such as engagement or anniversary have more emotive reasons to demand for that 1%.

 

The Ironic War between Nature & ‘Natural’

With the world’s preoccupation with what’s natural and what’s investment quality, it is not an exaggeration to say we are caught in a balancing web of mining out Nature and insisting on Nature!

It is ironic that if every zealous individual insists on paying for only an unheated sapphire, one certain outcome is to keep pushing up its price. All while collateral damage washes across Nature’s resources and deposits.

 

Our World Is A Magical Smoke Screen: Heated or Unheated?

We cannot speak for other jewellers but for ourselves.

I refrain from using the term ‘ethical’ as this has become embroiled with commercial motives and the outcome is laughable – our stand then as a¬†mindful¬†artist-craftsman-jeweller is to assess the reason for pursuing an unheated sapphire.

Our approach is simple, and sentimental. If it is the one piece of jewelry you are likely to want or purchase (and affordability is not an issue), an unheated sapphire may be good idea.

If you already have a few jewels or will expect to have more in future, there is no rush. Forestalling desire heightens its gratification , we hear this often…

But seriously, it is the denial of immediate gratification that will leave a better place for our children. Posterity will and has always depended on the now.

In David Lynch’s world,¬†the past dictates the future. (Yes, I do realise this statement could lead us back to where we started.)

What can you gather, just by looking at photos of the gems below? I am tempted to state which are heated, but there’s no fun in that.

 

Natural Blue Sapphire Ring

SIJS 3.6ct Ceylon Bi Colour Blue Sapphire Ring

 

Bicolor Sapphire

The cut of this “antique sapphire” is suitable for a historical Roman setting. The sapphire with its uneven facets, sides and all, is reminiscent of gold rings dug from an archeological site.

 

Natural Blue Sapphire Ring

These unconventional cuts allow what was originally a primitively cut sapphire to look more like a stone than like a gem, precisely what makes the ring design work. This is a sapphire with a cut that matches its colour zoning, hence the stone is a gem with a ‘story’.

 

Ceylon Blue Sapphire Ring

SIJS 3.6ct Art Deco Ceylon Sapphire Ring. This sapphire shade approximates Velvet Blue, always desirable.

 

Antique Blue Sapphire Ring

4.33ct Mid Century Platinum Ring.¬†This sapphire shade approximates Royal Blue. Bear in mind there’s very little light here.

 

[February 2018 Update: watch out for more photos of more colours of more actual sapphire rings!

 

Gemological Labs vs Jewelers

The grading of stones generally fall into two sources: gemological labs and jewelers.

Gem labs will provide you with the basic¬†info about identification, country of origin, and the presence or lack of treatment. Problem is, most of the top gemological labs that document sapphires and other coloured gems¬† don’t actually grade stones. There exists too much potential for conflicts of interest, as you may imagine. Which explains why the smaller gem labs have sometimes come in to fulfil this gap, grading in addition to identification. Here then lies possible areas for contention, which is why some stones can have two (or three) differing certification papers.

Many jewelers are also independent gemologists. Again, realistically speaking, the same potential for conflicts of interest prevail.

Our final word is this. When purchasing fine or luxury gems, it makes sense, both financially and intuitively, to consult with a jeweler/gemologist who goes beyond the identification of the gem to provide you a market-realistic grading and price guide.

Know where your cert is coming from. But get an independent grading and price information. This I find is always possible from a straightforward jeweler, who knows intimately the forces of demand and supply.

In some countries, like Singapore, no gem lab is seriously doing the grading and price information appraisal on paper, as they understand it is too unreliable when it comes to actual paying for and selling for (ie. who is buying, who is selling). This means you will be getting your grade and price information verbally.

Above paper, what your gem can fetch in the market must be realistic.

Personal Taste

If this is the case, it makes all sense to buy a gem you love, for whatever reasons that first caught your eye, understanding its draw and drawback points. Backed with a good lab’s certification and an understanding of market forces, you’ll be happy for a long time to come.

If that is not your experience, don’t blame yourself (or others) too much. Training your eye by looking at gems and educating yourself will take time. Knowing yourself is the most important, in the bigger scheme of things. The paper (or lack of) is secondary.

 

 

Last Updated: 12 January 2018. This article will continue to be updated regularly.

Next Update: February 2018.

Please bookmark it to follow our journey in “secrets of the gem trade”.

A list of the unheated gems available for sale.

 

7 things you didn’t know about gemstones & fine jewelry
Heated vs Unheated Sapphire
heated sapphire vs unheated
how to choose a sapphire
what is an unheated sapphire
how to buy gemstones
Heated vs Unheated Sapphire
heated sapphire vs unheated
how to choose a sapphire
what is an unheated sapphire
how to buy gemstones
7 things you didn’t know about gemstones & fine jewelry
Heated vs Unheated Sapphire
heated sapphire vs unheated
how to choose a sapphire
what is an unheated sapphire
how to buy gemstones
Heated vs Unheated Sapphire
heated sapphire vs unheated
how to choose a sapphire
what is an unheated sapphire
how to buy gemstones
heated vs unheated ruby
7 things you didn’t know about
unheated sapphire for sale
how to buy an engagement ring
tips on buying sapphires
7 things you didn’t know about gemstones & fine jewelry

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