Over the last 7 years, we’ve had the privilege to have met many clients who’ve become friends, jewellery buyers who’ve become collectors. Or even collectors who’ve become wearers! And because we see so many gemstones every day, we’re often asked to guide our clients’ purchases so that they can build a collection of wearable art.
So here are 5 tips for you to get started with your gem collection.
1. Ask yourself if you are an INVESTOR or a WEARER.
We have to draw a distinction between an investor who purchases auction-level gemstones which are in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or a wearer who appreciates the art of fine jewellery and would like to build a collection of jewellery they’re proud of! Investment gemstones come with an “investor” price tag and usually display not only the purest and most desirable colour/s of its type, but also a certain size that’s rare for that type of stone! These are not usually the type of stones you’d have the pleasure of wearing. Most stay in your safe for generations till they are auctioned off decades from now. Where is the fun in that? Most people are collectors in the broader sense; people who want to wear their jewellery, and would like to pass on their jewels as heirlooms in future.
- What to pick if you are a wearer
So if you are a jewellery wearer, our advice is to start small (in size and within your budget) and go for colour! After all, it’s COLOURED gemstones we are collecting! What you want is to collect gemstones you rarely come across and will only see less and less of over time. These are the pieces that you will never get at the same price (per carat) down the road.
2. Pick the undiscovered underdogs
After colour, always try to pick the undiscovered underdogs. Let’s not even talk about PB Ruby, Cornflower Sapphire, and Vivid Green Emerald. It’s the new wave of rare gems that will probably be the most special to you in time to come. Just think about the prices of Paraiba, or Spinel 10 years ago compared to where they are now…. you get the idea. Remember, you are a wearer and you are not buying this for resale. If you make “good” purchases, you are never gonna want to sell them, because your kids are gonna thank you decades from now when they see the prices then, if they can even find one of that superior colour/quality! So you may not yet be able to afford or have the confidence to splurge on that dream Sapphire or Emerald just yet. Start small as there is always the top 0.1% of stones at every price point. Instead of Alexandrite, why not colour change Garnet? Or instead of a royal blue sapphire, a bright blue Tanzanite?
3. SAVE UP FOR THE GOOD STUFF
As with all things, you get what you pay for. The higher your budget, the more choices you will have so save for the really good stuff. It’s easy to become obsessed with gemstones and just want more! That’s how you end up with a whole bunch of “cheap” buys but not necessarily good quality (or rare) stones. Just do a test right now. Take a cursory look at your jewellery box and ask yourself which pieces (sentimental items excluded) you are really proud of? Enough said! As you gain gem knowledge and experience, and find a trusted source you can rely on for honest opinion and recommendation, you’ll gradually find the confidence to buy higher value and rarer gemstones.
4. Buy from established jewellers
Last but not least. Buy from established jewellers. The jewellery business is very relationship based and the barriers to entry are extremely high. To be able to purchase either rough or cut and polished stones commercially, you do need to be buying in bulk, called ‘lots’ or ‘parcels’ in the industry. Competition to buy these lots can be fierce, especially at the moment, so they usually go to buyers who have a solid history of buying with that supplier.
Within these lots, the material is normally of varying quality. Some of it will be totally unusable as a gemstone, the majority of it will be low grade gem material, while a minority of it will be of high grade gem material. That’s the material we have at MADLY! We take the best material from these lots and ‘cut’ it into finished gemstones for use in our bespoke jewellery items, and let the lower grade material go back into the wholesale market for use by other jewellers in other sectors of the market.
As with many luxury items, the finest gemstones require a hefty investment and the best quality items are always shown to regular customers who buy in bulk. In a gem dealer’s case, their best customers are the established jewellers. Individual sellers and home based businesses don’t have the kind of buying power to bid for better quality gemstones and you will be choosing from the lower end of the spectrum. The honest truth is that if you’re shown a series of low quality stones, a mediocre stone will look amazing.
That’s why at MADLY, we always tell you to have a look at the jewellers and gemstones out there in the market before making us your last stop, and also to view multiple similar gemstones at the different price points so that you can see how the difference in quality translates to a difference in price.