Questions to Ask When Shopping for Fine Jewelry

I had a discussion on WhatsApp with my client about what gemstones to buy, can their value hold, what gemstones are investment worthy etc. I want to share our discussion and some more with you here in this blog post.

What stone should I buy?

This question came up when we discussed if my client’s friend should consider a 13+ carats fine quality aquamarine (including diamond ring setting) or increase her budget to buy a 0.5 carat loose fancy pink diamond.

Ideally you don’t have to choose, but in reality, not all of us are like Queen Elizabeth II who has it all, most of us have to decide on one or the other. In this case, I would consider which one of them makes me the happiest. Because both being rare, their value will hold, but both are not investment grade. People tend to think instead of buying an aquamarine why not buy a diamond instead? People assign more value on diamonds or believe it’s more of an investment. What exactly is an investment grade stone? Investment grade stones are extremely rare, natural without treatment, top quality (color, clarity and cut), large in size in its category (such as 3 carats for a red diamond and above 8 carats in emeralds). Investment grade gemstones require a lot of upfront cash to acquire, and most buyers do not wear these stones as jewelry due to security reasons. So fine quality aquamarine or the 0.5 carat pink diamond are both not investment grade gemstones.

That being said some clients bought small, good quality no-heat Burmese rubies or even top-quality tourmalines years ago and saw the value of their gemstones increase. That’s not only due to rarity, but also due to surging demands for gemstones in recent years which elevated prices of many gemstones. When one type of gemstone became too expensive, people started to look for alternatives and discovered a cheaper but still beautiful option until that option became too sought after and expensive. Of course, there are some gems that are just too widely available such as quartz, their values are difficult to increase. On the contrary, if a stone is too rare, such as a red beryl, the value is also difficult to scale high because people hardly recognize it and there aren’t enough trading activities to promote interest in the stone.

So, what does this all mean? It means when you are choosing a stone for a piece of jewelry, look for something you love, if keeping the value is a concern for you, then always look for good quality, because a good quality stone is always rarer and more sought after, thus more valuable now and in the future.

Please be aware that the price range of colored gemstones can be huge. For example, I have a 2-carats heated pink sapphire for 1800USD and a 5-carats heated pink sapphire for 12000USD. Just like diamonds, a one carat D VVS1 round diamond can cost up to 8300USD more than a one carat I VVS1 diamond at this moment.

Now you picked the gemstone, what’s next?

Fine jewelry to me means jewelry made of precious gemstones and metals, designed carefully and made by experienced artisans meticulously, one piece at a time. If a piece of jewelry is made with natural gemstones but is poorly crafted, that is what I called commercial jewelry. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with commercial grade jewelry or any type of jewelry. Just know the difference and don’t compare them. Don’t expect a jeweler to make a piece of fine jewelry with the price of commercial jewelry.

Besides the gemstones and precious metal used in a piece of jewelry, the other cost goes into side stones, design and labor. All these aspects must be executed well in order for the piece to come out beautifully. The designer’s job is not only designing but also know what to demand from the artisans. The designer and the artisans know how to best maximize the stone’s beauty through setting, other details that are not obvious to the clients must be discussed otherwise many artisans won’t do it. Some would argue if the clients won’t even notice the details, then what is the point of spending extra time on them? I disagree. Clients may not notice the details but they know nice things when they see it, touch it and feel it. They may not know what exactly is the difference but they know it looks and feels better.

Fine jewelry is highly personal, often with sentimental values. The jewelry a person wears also showcases his/her style and taste. Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision. Some want to fit in where some want to stand out. At Sevun Design, we consider a piece of jewelry a success when it makes our clients feel good and happy.