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Oh Good Party
Rare gems have a good history of increasing in value over time. When the stock market is declining and currency is losing value, gemstones tend to be a reliable store of value that is also compact, portable and private. Though gemstones are not as liquid as gold, a high quality jewelry will always retain its value.
Humans have been collecting jewels for centuries, and precious gemstones are among the most sought after material in the world, representing true monetary value.
Gemstone prices at auction are ever on the up, with stones of all kinds attaining astonishingly high rates under the hammer in 2016. The spring auction season achieved more than $800 million in sales between the months of March and July, according to a recent article from the Gemological Institute of America. Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the two largest auction houses for high-end gem and jewelry sales, broke last year’s half-year record by more than $140 million.
The sales success of exceptional gems can also in part be attributed to auction houses embracing the digital age. When Sotheby's New York partnered with eBay for its Magnificent Jewels sale in April 2015 it achieved an in-house record, and most other major auctioneers now accept virtual bids, giving their base of potential buyers a real boost. But whatever the reason, it's certainly an exciting time for fine jewellery's most spectacular stones. We round up the record-breakers.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s, who control over 90 percent of top-end gem and jewelry sales worldwide. Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Asia, said the market still was being driven by private buyers from Russia and Asia.
Fancy colored diamonds and colored gems continued to set records across the world as they hit the auction block, with one blue diamond, the “Oppenheimer Blue” becoming the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction in May. And that hasn’t been the only notable blue stone to go up for auction this year. In fact, in the top 10 lots alone in the first half of 2016, five were fancy blue diamonds. There also was a 15.38-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond that sold for more than $31 million, as well as the “Aurora Green” which set the world auction record for a green diamond. Rounding out the top 10 were two ruby pieces and a pair of earrings featuring two fancy vivid orange-yellow oval diamonds. While not among the top sellers of the year, rubies and sapphires of exceptional provenance remained in high demand fetching record prices. The Top 7. The oval-shaped 15.99-carat Jubilee Ruby, sold for $14.2 million at Christie’s New York in April, making it the most expensive colored gemstone ever sold at auction in the United States.
The highs and lows in this year’s auction season were extreme. All-time records were set while other high-profile gems and jewels failed to sell. Had Lesedi la Rona sold at auction, it would’ve topped the list--the 1,109-carat rough diamond was estimated at $70 million, but bidding at the June 29 auction held by Sotheby’s London didn’t reach the reserve price.
Rare gems have a good history of increasing in value over time. When the stock market is declining and currency is losing value, gemstones tend to be a reliable store of value that is also compact, portable and private. Though gemstones are not as liquid as gold, a high quality jewelry will always retain its value. New discoveries, like the valuable neon spinel discovered in Mahenge, Tanzania in 2007, provide new opportunities for collectors. But in general, the world demand for fine gemstones far exceeds the supply, and gemstone prices mainly move upward over time.
Any high quality gem may be worthy of investment. But based on our years in the trade, here is our list of the investment natural gems.
- Fancy color diamonds
High quality natural fancy color diamonds are very rare. Color diamonds have increased steadily over the last several decades while the world has seen its share of ups and downs. The short answer is yes, diamonds are safe investment. Regardless of the outcome of the election color diamonds will continue to increase because of their rarity.
- Burma Ruby
Fine ruby is the rarest of all colored gems, and Burmese ruby has long been the premier investment gem. Fine unheated Burmese rubies in larger sizes draw prices as high as $300,000 to $400,000 a carat at auction. Vivid red, a color known in the trade as pigeon's blood, is the most valuable color.
- Kashmir Blue Sapphire
Based on sales from the top auction houses, blue sapphire is one of the most popular colored stone for investment. The rarest sapphires are from Kashmir, but no new material has been mined there in more than 100 years. Fancy color sapphires, yellow, pink and padpardascha, are now popular with investors as well.
- Colombian Emerald
The emerald market has seen some turmoil as a result of controversies over treatments with artificial resins, but fine untreated emeralds continue to be reliable investments. Colombian, especially in large sizes, continue to be the most valuable, followed by the top Brazilian emeralds. Some high quality emeralds are also mined in Zambia.
Investment grade gemstones must be untreated.
When buying gemstones for investment purposes, it is critical to buy top grade gems. Low cost commercial grade stones are essentially worthless, while fine gemstones are distinguished by vivid and intense color, outstanding clarity, and excellent cut. So for investors wanting to protect and grow wealth, this alternative asset can provide exactly what they need.