Hold the diamonds, the new bling are candy coloured stones. The prediction is that if it’s going to be the cold glint of diamonds, then they’ll be rough or rose cut. However, there will always be serious collectors for these ‘forever’ gems. .
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, has a stash of diamonds as does actress Elizabeth Taylor whose collection includes the 33.19 Krupp diamond and the 69.42 carat pear shape Taylor-Burton diamond. There are a few legendary celebs who opted for more colourful stones. Take for instance the legendary actress Theda Bara who didn’t care much for diamonds but had a keen craving for emeralds and turquoises. Another actress of renown, Joan Crawford whose love for sapphires knew no bounds to the point where she was named “Joan Blue” One of her precious pieces was a bracelet of three star sapphires – a 73.15 carats, 63.61 carats and 57.65 carats and her moniker was etched forever when she received a 70 carat star sapphire engagement ring.
Not to be outdone when it came to the blue stones, the late great actress Jean Harlow’s cache included a 150 carat cabochon sapphire. Trend setter Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was certainly no slouch when it came to the world of bijoux. And she wasn’t afraid to wear coloured gemstones when it wasn’t’ le dernier cri’. Amethyst dangled from her neck, red tourmalines and cabochon rubies from her ears and garnets pinned to her shoulder. Even today’s socialites/businesswoman decisive and never demur, Ivana Trump, must have had a say about her engagement ring from her Italian husband. It is a very large Kashmir sapphire
Although sapphires certainly haven’t lost their sparkle, the new blue is tanzanite. It’s a relative newcomer to the marketplace and still unknown to many consumers. But for the knowledgeable buyer, tanzanite, only discovered about 30 years ago, has become a treasured and sought after gem
Yes, the focus is on colour and the rainbow selections include the ‘ites’…kunzite, tanzanite, alexandrite, lolite, morganite and amonite to name a few. But there is also a yen for the sweet colours of opal, aquamarine, topaz, amethyst, chalcedony, garnet, moonstone, and peridot
Perhaps the leader in coloured stones was Tiffany & Co. was founded in 1837. In fact, their early designer George Frederick Kunz was a leading authority who in fact, identified spobumen now known as kunzite.
“None of our stones is classified as semi precious,” says Andrea Hopson, V.P. Tiffany & Co. Canada. “Since we only look for the best colour, symmetry and proportion, the quality is exceptional.”
Louis Comfort Tiffany loved decorative arts and used coloured stones freely as did the star designer Jean Schlumberger who was extremely creative with colour especially in a singular piece, unusual in the early 1900s. Taking her inspiration from Schlumberger, contemporary wiz Paloma Picasso’s designs are known for her use of bold cabochon rings. Rare stones like rhodochrosite, chrysoprase, fire opal and green tourmaline are featured in her collections.
Tiffany can also boast of identifying and being the first to sell tanzanite in 1967 bringing this ever shrinking quantity to the world stage. They also had a hand in bringing tsavorite to the attention of savvy consumers.
“There’s an interest in all coloured stones from yellow, pink and a recently sold unique green diamond to vivid and rare Mandarin garnets and of course the blues of sapphires, aquamarines,” says Hopson.
“Coloured stones have become very important. Gem quality rubilite, kunzite, chrome tourmalines, spessartite garnets are bringing top quality prices,” says stone merchant and wholesaler, Stephen Lindsay (Lindsay Wolf Inc., New York, Toronto, and Palm Beach). . However, because of the limited amount of quantity of tanzanite, it’s now considered a precious stone, especially green tanzanite. But beware of the washed-out tanzanite which doesn’t have the value of a darker blue. Of course, unheated and untreated sapphires and rubies still get top remarkable prices. As for shape, ovals, cushion and emeralds cuts are our popular sellers,” say Lindsay.
At Toronto’s emporium for substantial fine gems, Royal de Versailles Jewellers, a retail store with the renowned reputation of selling to real rocks to rockers and the ultra wealthy, says that although their diamond sales are still up there, coloured stones are a considerable inexpensive alternative. “Pastels always sell well as the weather warms up,” says a spokesperson for the company. “And blue is the hottest and tops the colour chart. Paraiba tourmaline, aquamarine and topaz are popular but that doesn’t include lapis.
There’s also a trend towards pinks. “Perhaps it’s because pink sapphires and pink diamonds have become popular so that kunzite and morganite which are much more affordable have become very stylish in rings, earrings, brooches and neckpieces.”
The consensus seems to be that not only is price a determining factor but for traveling purposes multicoloured gemstones are the perfect and safer accessory.
A terrific barometer of what’s hot and what’s not is always at Holt Renfrew. ”Colour stones are strong and certainly very visible in the collections of designers Pomellato, Atonini, David Yurman, and Anthony Nak,” say HR’s fashion director Barbara Atkin. “Once again blue is strong at our counters but so is citrine and turquoise which we see a marked interest in spring and summer. Black onyx, quartz and amethyst are favourites in fall and winter and prasolite has recently become very popular specifically in David Yurman’s collection,” she says.
Coloured stones are set in rings, bracelets, earrings and neckpieces and it depends on the designer whether to integrate these stones with a stew of colours as recently seen in a design by celebrated designer, Marie Helene de Taillac’s gemstone necklace which features large cut coloured stones on fine chains.
John Thompson, Birks Toronto, Bloor Street’s store director, has a great take on the coloured stone market. There’s a consistent acceptance at the store about pink being the most popular colouration, but Thompson also sees the greens edging up in popularity and cites peridot, chrome and green tourmalines running a close second. And the glitz of diamond setting with coloured stones is a great way to show off the stone. “What we’re seeing is the demand for micro pave setting with large coloured stones which gives the stone a major, more important look. Our clients gets a very impressive item but not with the hefty price tag”, he says. “On a whole, the big sellers are rings and neck pieces; the most popular shapes are facetted cushion and oval over the polished rough cuts.
Rings seem to be demanding larger solitary stones. Impact and confidence is a great deciding point. Being age appropriate has nothing to do with the increasing fondness for colour. Everyone seems to be susceptible from young to the more mature.
And you can bet your dollars that what the celebrities wear at the various award shows are the perfect forecast of jewelry. Just keep a look out for the barrage of multicoloured gem stones. The celebs are the trendsetters (or is it their stylists?), their accessories as important as ‘who are you wearing’ from the moment their Manola stilettos hit the Red Carpet.
New York designer, Janis Provisor is known for her one-of-a kind much sought -after items. Mixing polished and rough cut stones gives “great texture to the designs,” says Debi Wisch, one of the company’s partners. “We often feature asymmetric stones filled with an element of surprise.”