Gemology: Shining a Light on Precious Stones

By July 29, 2022News

Marcela Jimenez–Ramirez’s extensive travels worldwide and international career working with gems make her an expert in coloured stones and Diamonds. She graduated as a gemologist of the GIA in 1995 and has spent time in America as a retail entrepreneur in coloured stones and jewellery. She also worked in a laboratory in her home country of Colombia where she specialised in the certification of Emeralds. Marcela shared what gemstones are popular at Webb’s and her take on what is popular in the New Zealand market.

What coloured gemstones is the New Zealand market currently looking for?

Interestingly, New Zealanders tend to go for cool colours, which differs from the South American market, which favours bolder, warmer colours. Sapphire, Aquamarine, Amethyst, Peridot, Rubies and Emeralds tend to be the most desired gemstones in New Zealand.

What is your top recommendation for clients looking to buy coloured stones?

Always look at the colour first, then concentrate on the cut. Focus more on the evenness of saturation in colour. When stones are cut from rough, a cutter will want to optimally achieve continued saturation as opposed to a perfectly shaped stone and will also look to obtain optimum weight. When light enters a gemstone from the top, most of it should bounce off the bottom of the stone and then reflect out again through the top. This is called light return.

What qualities do you recommend looking for in Sapphires?

Webb’s is fortunate to be consigning some high–quality Sapphires. Their appeal is durability; they generally hold their appearance regardless of age and in what jewellery style they are fashioned in. Sri Lankan sapphires are hugely appealing – though they are more commonly known as Ceylon Sapphires. Rich in hue, the most highly valued sapphires are velvety, violet- blue. They are a consistent seller, irrespective of outside trends. The saturation should be vivid without darkening the tone too much. Sapphires with these qualities command the highest prices per carat.

What should buyers look for in a Ruby?

Rubies are classic. They display a tonal range from a medium to dark orange–red to a purplish red. Rubies more than a carat in weight are generally cut into mixed–cut ovals or mixed–cut antique cushion shapes. The reason for this is that this style of cutting typically retains a maximum weight from the rough. Like Sapphires, colour is the most significant factor affecting the value of Rubies. The finest Ruby has a pure, vibrant red to slightly purple-red hue and the highest–quality Rubies have vivid saturation. The finest quality Rubies originate from Myanmar.

Why are Aquamarines so appealing?

Aquamarines are part of the Beryl family, popular due to their durability and are usually considered ‘clean stones’ with fewer inclusions. Due to this, you can often find they have a perfect finish. Buyers tend to covet them in cocktail rings or occasional pieces that add an element of glam. These are timeless and retain value, garnering strong resale value. The best come from Brazil, Pakistan, the United States and Zambia. Due to its hexagonal crystal structure, many are fashioned in Emerald and oval cuts. Finding good quality Aquamarine is becoming difficult, so appeal also comes from their rarity.

What other stones do you get requests for?

Probably the other most popular gemstone is Amethyst. They are a part of the Quartz family, making the gems accessible and appealing to a wider market. A stable stone, they are vibrant in colour. They make for a great gift and Webb’s often consign lovely pieces in earrings, rings and pendants. The Amethyst has regal connotations, revered by Kings and Queens as a colour of nobility seen to protect and provide power and strength.

Do you have any last recommendations for Webb’s clients?

I encourage clients to establish a good collection of gemstones, enabling them to wear different tones and cuts according to season, mood and fashion. A fantastic advantage of purchasing significant gemstones is that they can be repurposed, remodelled or potentially recut. Choosing the right gemstone offers versatility that enables you to adapt them to be anything you desire.

We will be holding a live auction of Fine Jewels, Watches & Luxury Accessories on Sunday 28 August. The catalogue includes a stunning range of loose gemstones, and also exquisite gemstones set in rings, brooches & earrings. Get in touch with our team of specialists for further information, we would love to hear from you.

Christine Power AJP (GIA)
Head of Fine Jewels, Watches & Luxury Accessories
+64 27 929 5607

Marcela Jimenez Ramirez
Jewellery & Watches Specialist
+64 22 427 0233

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