AZGem Gems

April 2016


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The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company

and other visitors to the website who subscribe.




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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Engagement Rings with Colored Gems


engagement rings with colored gems tanzanite


Engagement rings with colored gems are gaining in popularity, according to several gemstone and jewelry industry publications.

Engagement rings with colored gems are gaining in popularity... again, would be a more accurate statement. Recorded history and archaeology tell us that from Ancient Egypt through the 1930's, colored gems in rings marking betrothals and weddings were customary.

We have written about this engagement ring trend in this space a couple of times over the past two or three years. But considering the recent press release from the prestigious auction house Bonhams, it is timely to expound on the subject again. That press release is reprinted near the end of this article.



princess diana blue sapphire engagement ring


Most people with an interest in gems and jewelry - or an interest in royalty for that matter, are familiar with the blue sapphire engagement ring given to the future Princess Diana by Prince Charles of Great Britain. That ring reentered the news when their son Prince William presented his mother's engagement ring to Kate Middleton.



engagement rings with colored gems emerald


In our experience, most women who choose a colored gem for their engagement ring do so because they have a favorite gem. That favorite gem often turns out to be one of the "big three"... sapphire, ruby, or emerald, and is not necessarily her birthstone.



engagement rings with colored gems spinel


Engagement rings with colored gems can be lavishly accented with small diamonds, as is usually the case when the ring is featured in advertisements or news media stories.


engagement rings with colored gems rhodolite


However, a simple solitaire prominently presents the beauty of a nice emerald, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, tsavorite, or other colored gem.


engagement rings with colored gems yellow sapphire


Most couples do something in between lavish and solitaire.


In the 1930's, the diamond conglomerate De Beers initiated a marketing campaign targeting United States consumers and promoting diamonds in engagement rings. This campaign evolved into the famous 1947 marketing campaign "A diamond is forever". The idea that a diamond is the symbol of love soon spread to other countries. Many advertising experts believe it to be the most successful marketing campaign in history.

And that's how diamonds became the new customary gem in engagement rings. However, the colorful appeal and beauty of colored gemstones is helping these colorful gems regain their prominence in the bridal market.


Regarding the Bonhams' press release mentioned earlier - I found it interesting, not only for the subject matter, but also because of the third-person writing style.

Bonhams Auctioneers & Valuers is a privately owned British auction house founded in 1793. They have some expertise in the jewelry field, and their pronouncement can have a positive impact on the colored gems in engagement rings trend.

Here is the recent press release from Bonhams...


engagement rings with colored gems blue sapphire


DIAMONDS may be forever... but sapphires are soaring, at least when it comes to marking an engagement for increasing numbers of couples, according to Bonhams.

The international auction house says a resurgence of interest in colored stones has seen more and more couples choosing sapphires to affirm their commitment.

While diamonds are seen by many couples as the time-honoured way of announcing their commitment, in fact they are a relatively recent custom compared to sapphires.

Our modern-day love for "a girl's best friend" is largely the result of a highly successful marketing campaign by De Beers in the 1930s and 1940s.

But Bonhams says many clients are looking for something a little bit different when it comes to the choice of gemstone for their engagement ring.

While classic diamonds remain popular, the leading auctioneer is reporting a growing trend for people choosing colored 'statement stones' like sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

Sapphires come in a wide variety of colors - including pink, yellow and padparadscha (a rare pinkinsh orange color) – and these hold a great appeal for serious jewelry collectors and investors.

That means the stones are not only holding but increasing their value, making them an appealing buy in an otherwise increasingly volatile financial market.

As ever, some of the interest is said to be the result of trend-setting celebrities leading the way.

Hollywood actor Javier Bardem presented a three carat sapphire ring to actress Penelope Cruz to mark their engagement and Victoria Beckham has added a large oval cut sapphire to her collection of engagement rings. Actresses Tina Fey and Sofia Vergara both sparkled in sapphires on the red carpet at this year's Oscars ceremony 

Jean Ghika, Head of jewelry in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: "Traditionally, sapphires symbolize truth, sincerity and faithfulness – so they make the perfect ingredients for an upcoming marriage.

"Kings and queens from Ancient Greece and Rome wore sapphires to protect them from harm and envy, and they have enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest gems until the present day.

"Our market data suggests more and more of our clients are opting for colored 'statement stones' like sapphires, emeralds and rubies in their jewellery."

Jean Ghika continues: "While the market will always be there for diamonds, our global clients are interested in seeing more pieces with color and adding sapphires into their jewelry collection.

"As well as newly engaged couples, we are seeing a lot of independently wealthy women also choosing sapphires because they want something different and more of a statement gem in their ring compared to a classic diamond."

Part of the growing interest in colored stones is due to the renewed supply of material, and also rejuvenated mining activities in traditional areas. While the older material typically achieves the higher prices at auction, Bonhams reports the price for new material is also increasing as customers recognize supplies are finite.

Bonhams is seeing superb examples of colored stones coming on to the market due to the rising demand for color in jewelry across the gemstone board. New mines are opening in countries like Mozambique, Madagascar and Zambia and these areas now produce beautiful sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

Such increased interest in colored stones is behind a significant surge in auction room prices for new and period jewelry featuring the gems, which makes 2016 a strong year for anyone who wants to sell sapphires which are sitting in safe deposit boxes or in dusty old jewelry boxes.

Jean Ghika says: "With prices so buoyant, now is a really good time to sell sapphires and other colored stones. We encourage clients to look in their jewelry boxes and safety deposit boxes and bring in any pieces they simple don't wear anymore for a free valuation with a view to sale. They will get our expert advice on how to achieve the best price and may be surprised at the current value of their sapphires given demand for the best quality stones is very high.

"A long forgotten jewel which hasn't been worn for years could be given a second lease of life with a new owner or collector and realize a substantial sum of money for the seller in the process."

Antique sapphires from historic mines are particularly sought after by collectors and investors due to their rarity and are commanding record prices at auction according to Bonhams.

Sapphires hailing from Kashmir – which display a vivid velvety blue tone unique to the region - are among the most highly-prized gems for serious collectors and investors due to their rarity and their scarcity. This is due to the fact that while there are still sapphires to be found in Burma and Sri Lanka, no mining activity takes place in Kashmir due to the depletion of the mine in the 1880s.

Today Kashmir sapphires are amongst the rarest of all gemstones and are avidly sought by collectors who are prepared to pay princely sums for top-quality specimens.

Bonhams has seen many sapphires dramatically exceeding pre-sale estimates at auction, demonstrating a rapidly strengthening market. There are numerous examples of significant price increases at auction of the last five to ten years.

Examples of sapphires soaring at auction:

- In 2004, a 30-carat Sri Lankan sapphire sold at Bonhams London for £11,950. A decade later, a similar Sri Lankan stone, also weighing 30 carats, sold for a staggering £326,500 – an increase of 2,200 per cent.

- In April 2015, a ring set with a Kashmir sapphire weighing 21.27 carats and carrying a pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £80,000 sold at Bonhams for a stunning £290,500.

- In December 2015, a pair of 19th century earrings set with Kashmir sapphires that belonged to a European princess and weighing a little less than eight carats each sold for £1,538,500 – more than tripling their pre-sale estimate of £500,000.

- At Bonhams New York in December 2015, an oval-cut Kashmir sapphire weighing 7.84 carats and set in a ring by Tiffany & Co sold for a staggering $1.3million [nearly £918,000], breaking the world record for a sapphire under 10 carats.

- In April 2014, Bonhams London sold a Sri Lankan yellow sapphire weighing 86.32 carats for £60,000 - six times its high pre-sale estimate.

Sapphires boasting optical effects can also attract much interest at auction. These include 'star sapphires', which are cabochon-cut [shaped rather than faceted] stones that portray a star-like effect called asterism on the surface, caused by light reflecting from numerous tiny inclusions in the stone.

In September 2014, a star sapphire weighing 83.98 carats made £52,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £15,000 to 20,000.

Recent results at Bonhams demonstrate the global appeal of the stone with the auctioneer reporting its top sapphires being purchased from its London Fine Jewelry sales by buyers coming from the US, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong and South Korea.

As a result, Bonhams is expecting greater interest in its upcoming Fine Jewelry sale in London which takes place in its New Bond Street salesroom on 20 April. This features over 20 sapphire lots including a ring set with a cabochon-cut Kashmir sapphire, weighing 7.13 carats, estimated at £50,000 to £70,000.

There is also a fine pink sapphire set in a Cartier ring, which weighs 17.15 carats and is estimated at £30,000 to £40,000.

Bonhams Fine Jewelry sale takes place at midday on Wednesday 20 April in its New Bond Street salesroom.

engagement rings with colored gems pink sapphire



gem news


Photo Information


Top - Engagement ring with a tanzanite center stone

Next - Princess Diana / Kate Middleton engagement ring with blue sapphire

Next - Engagement ring with an emerald center stone

Next - Engagement ring with a blue spinel center stone

Next - Engagement ring with a rhodolite center stone

Next - Engagement ring with acanary yellow sapphire center stone

Next - Engagement ring with a domed blue sapphire center stone

Next - Engagement ring with a pink sapphire center stone

Next: - Gem special offer - Black opal with blue body color

Next - Industry News - Jubilee Ruby goes on the market

Next - Dealer Product Image - Amethyst Ring in Sterling Silver

Last - Dealer Program Image - Pink Spinel and Sterling Silver Earrings



A Google search for links or images using keywords such as famous sapphire engagement rings or famous ruby engagement rings can return some very interesting information and websites.




Gem Offer


gem special offer blue opal oval


Here is this month's special gem deal. 


Gem:     Black Opal

Color:    Blue body, multi0colored fire

Quality:     AA

Shape:     Oval 

Dimensions:     12.2 x 7.8 mm

Weight:     2.30 carats

Price:     $92, plus shipping ($5)

Black opal is more rare, and therefore more desirable than white opal. Black opal with an overall blue body color is even more rare. 

Opal is the October birthstone.

Send me an email (with anti-spam) (carolynatazgemdotcom) and tell me that you want this fine gem.

We have other  shapes, sizes, and shades of gems available.

We keep gem prices low by buying quality gemstone rough worldwide, and having the rough material cut by our gem cutters in Asia.


gem newsletters


Gem Industry News


The Jubilee Ruby: Worthy of a King


engagement rings with colored gems jubilee ruby


Forbes online reports on Christie's Magnificent Jewels Auction results:

A 15.99-carat Burmese ruby fetched more than $14.1 million at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale Wednesday, making it the most expensive colored gemstone sold at auction in the U.S. The price includes commission and fees. The hammer price was $12.5 million, on the low end of its $12 to $15 million estimate.

Known as the “Jubilee Ruby,” the gem is set in an 18k gold ring within a circular-cut diamond and polished gold surround designed by Verdura.


gemstone news


Jewelry Dealers


jewelry dealers wholesale


The Spring season lets you work both sides of your business.

As always, mine your customer list for gift occasions... anniversaries, birthdays, and more.

You can also be replenishing your inventory. Holiday sales left sucessful dealers with cash on hand and depleted inventory.

Be the Quality Jewelry Discounter.



gemstone news


Jewelry Dealers Program


jewelry dealers program


Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and friends of friends?

Could you use an extra income source?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.



Carolyn Doyle

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